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Business Travel Continues an Uphill Battle to Recovery


Based on the current situation of COVID-19, business travel and large conferences will still struggle for the next two years as the industry tries to recover from a year of crisis.

Add the Delta variant that has become the dominant strain in the United States, it is still unknown when will things go back to normal again.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions as well as a slump in demand among travelers. The tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread. The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimated that global international tourist arrivals decreased by 58% to 78% in 2020, leading to a loss of US$0.9–1.2 trillion in international tourism receipts.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, the true global financial impact of COVID-19 began in Q2 2020, resulting in an expected 68% decline (to USD 738 billion) from April 1, 2020, to the end of the year. Because of the relatively strong (pre-COVID) first quarter of 2020, global spending on business travel is expected to show a 52% decrease for all of 2020 (to USD 694 billion), down from USD 1.4 trillion in 2019.

A 21% increase in business travel spending is projected in 2021. Most of this gain is expected to come at the end of 2021 as vaccinations increase globally and consumer confidence returns.

In 2022, the BTI Outlook forecasts further acceleration in business travel, including a significant pick-up in group meeting activity and international business travel.

While annual business travel spending growth is expected to slow somewhat in 2023, it is projected to remain well above historical average rates of growth of 4.6%. By the end of 2024, annual business travel spending is projected to reach approximately $1.4 trillion, nearly equaling the 2019 pre-pandemic revenue peak of $1.43 trillion.

A full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is expected by 2025.

According to published reports, business travel overall is recovering at a rate of around 10% per week in 2021, according to corporate travel management firm TripActions. The rate comes to about a 31% recovery rate month-over-month, with business travel up more than 300% compared to the start of the year.

The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s recommendations for unvaccinated people.

People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States.

CDC will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, as rates of COVID-19 change, and as additional scientific evidence becomes available. This guidance applies to travel within the United States and U.S. territories.

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