The majority (98%) of clients working with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) expect travel to return before the end of 2021.
But the emergence of new Covid-19 variants and an increase in cases in some regions have pushed back some restarts from the third quarter of the year to the final three months.
More than half (55%) of travel managers polled have lifted or relaxed booking restrictions, more than double the level recorded in May.
There has also been a 36% increase in clients planning for the return to travel versus May
The number of clients ready to travel in the next 30 days is up 47% from where it was in May. North America is in the lead, with 26% of clients ready to get back on the road within a month thanks to high vaccination rates and relaxing restrictions.
However, in the EMEA region just 10% of clients are prepared for travel in the next 30 days, rising to 14% in Asia Pacific and 16% in Latin America. Increasing case numbers have pushed back the travel restart in these regions.
Looking at purpose for travel, more than half (53%) of clients surveyed in the latest GBT ‘client check-in’ cite ‘business critical’, with client-related activity coming second at 35%.
Domestic travel continues to represent most travel activity (more than 80%) and this is not expected to change much during the summer period, normally a slow period for business travel.
Intra-regional and international travel could take off from September if restrictions on travel reduce and vaccinations continue to roll out.
But bookings in Europe are flat or slightly decreasing.