Survey: Despite Economic Concerns, Business Travel Slowly Returning to Pre-COVID Levels

A survey from the Global Business Travel Association finds that optimism reigns supreme within the travel industry going into 2023, despite tough economic headwinds.

The economy may face challenges bouncing back, and that could put a damper on things in 2023—but hey, at least that damper isn’t coming from COVID-19.

And that, according to a recent study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), is good news. The report found that while the state of the economy continued to raise points of concern for travel bookers, it was not something that would necessarily stop them from setting up a business trip, unlike with COVID.

Business travel is slowly but surely bouncing back to levels seen in 2019, according to the study of nearly 600 business travel buyers. Per the survey, domestic business travel is, on average, at 63 percent of pre-pandemic totals, while international travel is at 50 percent at where it was before lockdowns severely hampered the travel landscape.

But the optimism going into the new year is strong, with more than three-fourths of travel managers (78 percent) expecting their companies to take more business trips, while 85 percent of business-travel bookers expect more bookings overall. And while economic concerns might suggest a coming downturn, three-quarters of travel buyers say there are no plans to immediately limit travel because of it.

Those trips, travel managers believe, won’t just be limited to meetings bringing together staff that now largely works remote. Around two-thirds of travel managers expect to increase both internal travel (e.g., meetings with colleagues at other company locations) and external travel (e.g., sales trips or conferences).

In a news release, GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang said that these indicators are signs that, going into 2023, there will be much potential to make back many of the losses of the past three years. She cited the fact that certain parts of the world, particularly Asia, were still opening back up, while mask restrictions ended only recently.

“We continue to see progress as business travel makes its way back to being a $1.4 trillion global industry, pre-pandemic. It is also important to understand the context of global business travel’s recovery,” she said.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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