The recovery of business travel in 2021 proceeded at a slower pace than expected, but we should see a global surge in 2022 with full recovery expected in 2024, according to new research from the Global Business Travel Association. By year-end 2024, global business travel spend should exceed the 2019 prepandemic annual total of $1.4 trillion, a year sooner than previously forecast, per GBTA’s BTI Outlook, released today.
The report provides a detailed analysis of business travel in 2021 with projections for 2022 and beyond, including post-Covid recovery forecasts. Now in its 13th edition, the BTI Outlook is an exhaustive annual study of business travel spending and growth covering 73 countries across 44 industries. First-time additions this year include survey insights from global senior financial executives and business travelers.
Highlights of the latest findings:
- After declining 53.8 percent in 2020 to $661 billion, global expenditures are expected to have rebounded 14 percent in 2021 to $754 billion.
- A year-over-year surge of 38 percent is expected in 2022 as recovery and pent-up demand kicks into a higher gear, bringing global business travel spending back to more than $1 trillion.
- Recovery will continue into 2023, with global spending rising 23 percent year-over-year as international and group travel accelerate.
- By 2024, global business travel is forecast to have made a full recovery, ending the year at $1.48 trillion, just above the 2019 prepandemic spend of $1.4 trillion.
- In 2025, global business travel growth is expected to slow to 4.3 percent, ending the year at a forecasted $1.5 trillion.
Risks to watch
A number of factors could disrupt the forecasted growth. Covid-related disruptions, supply-chain strains, labor shortages, rising inflation, increased costs and lagging recovery in Asian markets are just a few of the risks for continued on-target recovery. Still to be determined are the impacts of emerging factors, including broad adoption of remote-working models; long-term cuts or the elimination of business trips and travel volume; and the increased focus on sustainability practices and policies for business travel.
The BTI Outlook outlines four conditions necessary for full recovery in global business travel: the global vaccination effort; national travel policy; business traveler sentiment; and corporate travel management policy. The recovery remains highly dependent on the vaccine rollout, employees’ return to the office, and a normalization of travel policies on both the national and corporate levels. Travel managers will also face the challenge of juggling duty-of-care with rising costs, sustainability priorities and new considerations on the ROI of business travel.
GBTA members can download a full copy of the BTI Outlook on the GBTA members-only hub. The report was conducted in partnership with Rockport Analytics, a research and analytical consulting firm, and made possible by HRS.