Corporate TravelGBTA's updated report highlights faster-than-expected business travel spending rebound.

Business travel expected to hit $1.4 billion next year

GBTA's report contrasts with its 2022 projection, noting quicker business travel recovery due to rebounding spending, driven by pent-up demand and economic improvement.
GBTA's report contrasts with its 2022 projection, noting quicker business travel recovery due to rebounding spending, driven by pent-up demand and economic improvement. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Sebastian

Global business travel expenditure is set to reach US$1.4 billion in the upcoming year, surpassing 2019 figures for the first time post-pandemic, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

GBTA’s latest Business Travel Index Outlook report diverges from the less optimistic August 2022 forecast, which foresaw business travel spending's delayed recovery until 2026 due to inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Revising its forecast, GBTA noted that travel spending rebounded more swiftly than anticipated just a year earlier. Suzanne Neufang, GBTA's CEO, remarked, "The challenges foreseen for global business travel's recovery over the past year did not materialise, which is a positive development."

In 2022, total business travel spending escalated by 47% to US$1.03 trillion, emerging from two years of pandemic-induced restrictions and virtual interactions. Accommodation constituted 38% of these expenditures, while food and beverage accounted for 19%. Air travel and ground transport formed 18% and 13% of expenses, respectively.

Anticipated growth for business travel expenditures in 2023 is 32%, driven by pent-up demand, the resurgence of in-person meetings and events, improved economic conditions, and diminishing recession concerns. Inflation also contributes to revenue growth, with spending outpacing travel frequency. GBTA predicts that business travel spending will ascend to US$1.8 trillion by 2027, though it cautioned that remote work expansion, virtual meeting tech adoption, and sustainability initiatives might temper this growth.

Disparities in business travel spending growth are evident across regions and industries. Western Europe experienced a surge of 109% in business travel spending in 2022, rebounding from a lackluster 2021, while North America and Latin America saw growth of 73% and 63%, respectively. However, Emerging Europe only saw a 25% increase due to the conflict in Ukraine, and Asia Pacific's growth was restrained by ongoing pandemic restrictions in China, growing by only 15%.

China, which faced a 4.6% decline in business travel in 2022, is expected to regain its position as the leading global business travel market in 2023, with an anticipated 39% growth and $360 billion in spending.

Certain sectors, including construction, education, and professional, scientific, and technical activities, displayed greater resilience in business travel.

According to a GBTA survey of 4,700 global business travellers, the average expenditure per person on a trip is US$1,018. The trend of blended or "bleisure" travel, involving the fusion of business and leisure, continues to gain popularity, with 62% of travellers integrating business and pleasure more frequently than in 2019. Approximately 42% of respondents are adding leisure days to their business trips, and 79% are opting for the same accommodation for both segments of their journey.

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