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Business Travel Predicted to Recover Fully by 2025

GBTA annual report shows business travel spend in 2020 was half of the 2019 levels

Business travel spending is forecast to recover its pre-pandemic levels by 2025, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s 12th annual BTI Outlook.

The GBTA study is predicting a 21 percent increase in business travel spending in 2021 with most of the growth expected to come at the end of the year as vaccinations increase globally. Accelerated growth is forecast through subsequent years with business travel spend of $1.4 trillion by the end of 2024, nearly equaling pre-pandemic levels.

The recovery comes after a year of dramatic losses in business travel. The study found COVID-19 in 2020 slashed business travel spend to $738 billion, a 68 percent drop compared to the year prior from the beginning of second quarter through the end of the year.

Because of the relatively strong (pre-COVID) first quarter, global spending on business travel is expected to post a 52 percent decrease for all of 2020, down to $694 billion from $1.4 trillion in 2019.

The GBTA study concludes that the business travel spending losses in 2020 will be 10 times larger than the impact of either 9/11 or the Great Recession of 2008.

“The pandemic has been devastating for business travel and it’s clear our industry will take some time to recover given the challenges we’re facing on multiple fronts,” said Dave Hilfman, interim executive director of GBTA.

“Economic recovery is already underway, although very uneven across countries and sectors. The continued rollout of vaccines will be central to recovery globally,” Hilfman added.

GBTA is one of a number of industry groups urging governments to adopt a global standard to restart travel, seeking to eliminate quarantines and blanket travel bans as quickly and safely as possible.

The BTI Outlook is an exhaustive study of business travel spending and growth covering 75 countries across 48 industries.