Skift Take

An extra drag of 18 months won’t be welcome news for hotels and airlines counting on a faster recovery. The latest Global Business Travel Association forecast makes for somber reading.

Global business travel spending is coming back at a slower pace than predicted, new research shows, with a full recovery now scheduled for 2026.

A perfect storm of factors includes the now familiar line-up of inflation, energy prices, supply chain challenges, labor shortages and regional developments, the Global Business Travel Association has warned.

Combined they will add 18 months to the association’s previous recovery forecast. Rather than the end of 2024, annual business travel spending is projected to reach pre-pandemic spending levels of $1.4 trillion in mid-2026, according to its latest Business Travel Index, published on Monday during the association’s annual convention in San Diego.

The forecast tacks business travel spending and growth covering 73 countries and 44 industries, and is now in its 14th year.

Total spending on global business travel reached $697 billion in 2021, 5.5 percent above the pandemic-era low of 2020. The industry gained back roughly $36 billion of the $770 billion lost in 2020.

Recovery was “short-circuited” by the Omicron variant and spike in global Covid cases in late 2021 and early 2022, the report said.

Global business travel spending in 2022 is expected to advance 34 percent over 2021 levels to $933 billion, recovering to 65 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Global business travel will almost reach pre-pandemic levels in 2025, reaching $1.39 trillion.

In mid-2026 it’s set to reach $1.47 trillion.

Other big obstacles include lockdowns in China, and major regional impacts due to the war in Ukraine.

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Tags: business travel, china, corporate travel, gbta, inflation

Photo credit: Beijing International Airport. Ongoing lockdowns in China were cited in the new report. Joe Green / Unsplash