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Corporate Travelers More Positive About Travel After Vaccinations

Latest GBTA poll shows vaccine rollout and testing increase the willingness to hit the road

A large majority (79 percent) of corporate travel managers say they would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” traveling for business after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. The latest findings come from the 16th installment of the Global Business Travel Association’s coronavirus poll.

The survey of corporate travel buyers and procurement professionals found an increase in the willingness of their employees who are ready to get back on the road, with more than half (55 percent) saying travelers are “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business in the current environment, up from 49 percent in the January poll. 

Just 17 percent of the respondents feel their employees are unwilling to travel for business at the present time.

Almost half (49 percent) support mandatory COVID-19 testing for employees prior to travel to ensure the safety of customers and clients when meeting face-to-face. European respondents more likely (58 percent) than North American respondents (44 percent) to see mandated testing as “good policy.”

And the poll found a majority of members and stakeholders (58 percent) support airlines requiring that passengers provide proof of vaccination in order to fly (once vaccines become more readily available). European respondents (65 percent) are more likely than those in North America (54 percent) to support proof of vaccination to fly.

Still most GBTA member companies have not opened international (89 percent) or domestic (64 percent) travel. While a strong majority (76 percent) continue to report they have suspended or cancelled all business travel regardless of location, a quarter of companies have restarted at least some business travel, a nearly 10 point rise over previous GBTA polls.

“As vaccination programs ramp up globally, traveler and corporate confidence is starting to return,” said Dave Hilfman, GBTA’s interim executive director. “It is reassuring to hear so much discussion around business travel resuming and a change in sentiment from 16 percent to 25 percent of GBTA members and stakeholders who have resumed some domestic business travel in the last month.”

Over two-thirds (68 percent) say border closures and restrictions have reduced business travel at their company, and over half say the measure have impacted their company’s recovery efforts in 2021, either by hampering travel (43 percent) or restricting imports/exports of goods and services needed by their company (10 percent).

Nevertheless, business travel spending is forecast to increase 21 percent in 2021, according to the GBTA’s annual BTI Outlook released earlier this month. Most of the growth expected to come at the end of the year as vaccinations increase globally.

The GBTA study is predicting that overall business travel spending will recover its pre-pandemic levels by 2025.