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Business travel recovery in UK trails most other markets

The business travel market in the UK is expected to shrink by 17% this year compared to 2020, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

It estimates business travel spending in the UK will be $17.6 billion in 2021.

Out of the top 15 business travel markets, only Japan is expected to show a worse annual growth figure, with spending down by 37%.

For the whole region of western Europe, business travel expenditure for 2021 is expected to fall 3.8% from 2020 levels.

“This stems from early year underperformance, but with recent resurgence, business travel demand in the region is set to outpace most other parts of the world, barring any Covid-related setbacks,” according to the GBTA’s latest business travel index – the BTI Outlook – released on Wednesday at its convention in Orlando.

Overall, global business travel spending is expected to surge in 2022 with a full recovery expected in 2024 – ending the year level with the 2019 pre-pandemic spend of $1.4 trillion.

The spending figure fell by 54% in 2020 to $661 billion amid the pandemic, and is expected to have rebounded by 14% in 2021 to $754 billion.

A year-on-year surge of 38% 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.

The two top markets, China and the US, will see 2021 spending rise by 32% and 30% year-on-year, respectively.

Suzanne Neufang, GBTA chief executive, said: “We are getting back to normal but it is not a straight line.”

She pointed to factors such as Covid threats, vaccination levels, inflation worries and changing working practices which will affect the recovery.

 

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