STUDY: Business travel to resume within next three months

Young woman in the airport, looking through the window at planes

Higher levels of optimism in the global corporate travel sector are emerging, with domestic and essential business travel likely to resume first, according to new research.

Nearly half (49 per cent) of all polled Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) member companies plan to resume domestic travel within the next three months, while one in five plan to resume all travel in the same period.

The findings come with the release of the association’s eighth poll among its global membership, to gauge the continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic on business travel, which received responses from 1,708 member companies.

Companies in the United States (38 per cent) and Canada (33 per cent) remain the most optimistic to resume business travel within the next three months.

However, companies across Asia are among the least optimistic, with those in Taiwan (13 per cent), China (12 per cent), the Asia Pacific (12 per cent), and Hong Kong (11 per cent) unlikely to resume travelling for business in the near future.

Likewise, companies in Latin America (13 per cent), and the Middle East and Africa (13 per cent) have flagged their lack of optimism to travel in the next three months.

Finally, the poll reveals a small uptick in the number of companies allowing some essential travel – 44 per cent compared to 37 per cent in the previous GBTA poll released in late May.

Underpinning any uptick in interest, however, would have to be standardised health and safety requirements – not unlike the World Travel & Tourism Council’s ‘Safe Travels’ protocols – according to the GBTA.

“To continue this trend, there is strong support from GBTA member companies who want consistent health and safety measures for every travel vertical,” CEO Scott Solombrino said.

“This is critical, and GBTA has been lobbying intensely on behalf of members. We have already seen great collaborative progress in the hotel and airline sectors.”.

Small indications of recovery are also evident among suppliers, with more travel suppliers and travel management companies (TMCs) reporting seeing an increase in bookings.

In fact, almost half (46 per cent) of travel suppliers and TMCs reported seeing an increase in their bookings from 8 to 14 June, while 40 per cent said their bookings remained the same.

Supplier optimism regarding the industry’s path to recovery is also showing positive signs, according to the GBTA.

Forty per cent of polled companies said they felt more optimistic than they were from 8 to 14 June, compared to 28 per cent who felt the same in the previous GBTA coronavirus poll.

While half of those polled feel the same as they did from 8 to 14 June, and only 10 per cent feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery than they felt a week earlier.

Moreover, while overall sentiment for international travel is unsurprisingly low from member companies, with 12 per cent flagging they intend to fly overseas within the next three months, 44 per cent said they would consider resuming travel but without a firm timeline.

The news comes as countries across Europe begin to reopen their international borders in a bid to kick-start their struggling economies with influxes of tourists – all of who are travelling under in-destination health restrictions.

Featured image: iStock/encrier

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