According to the most recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) poll, conducted between October 12-16, more than three-quarters of respondents (75 percent) believe that rapid testing prior to departure, and waiving quarantining requirements for those who test negative, are among the best ways to reopen international travel. Among European members specifically, this number rises to 86 percent.
When asked about the biggest barriers to travel, 63 percent of European GBTA members and 43 percent globally, cited government travel restrictions and policies, such as quarantine and entry restrictions, followed by company policy (32 percent), employee unwillingness/reluctance to travel (9 percent), and company cost savings (6 percent).
“The current patchwork approach to travel, particularly across Europe, is prolonging the devastating effects of COVID-19 on both the industry and the economy as a whole. It is evident from our latest poll that our members would welcome the opportunity to travel again in a safe environment and would be satisfied with the rapid testing approach pre-travel,” said Catherine Logan, Regional VP of Europe GBTA.
Despite the rapid growth and necessity for virtual meetings, 82 percent of respondents still feel face-to-face meetings are ‘more’ or ‘much more’ effective. Fewer feel virtual meetings are equally effective (14 percent) and just 2 percent see virtual meetings as more effective.
“There is a clear indication that regular business travelers are looking forward to returning to travel and the benefits of a face-to-face meeting are undisputable. Almost all GBTA members (94 percent) flew for business prior to March 2020, before the start of the pandemic, but just 6 percent have flown since—a clear illustration in the loss of revenue not only for the business travel industry, but from corporations not closing new business deals to the wider global economy and GDP,” commented GBTA Interim Executive Director Dave Hilfman.
The impact of COVID-19 is reinforced by the poll figures which finds 59 percent of GBTA member companies reduced staff or laid off employees as a direct result of the pandemic, while 52 percent furloughed employees, and 48 percent introduced pay cuts. Almost half (46 percent) of those GBTA member organizations with furloughed employees report seeing some return to work in some capacity.
The lack of government support continues to be a point of contention and 62 percent of members think it is ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ that further reductions or staff layoffs are inevitable if additional government aid is not received. Half (51 percent) predict further furloughs and 46 percent believe further pay cuts are likely or ‘very’ likely without government interaction.
The current short-term forecast for travel remains unchanged with 90 percent of GBTA member companies still not open to International travel and 68 percent domestically, as companies continue to cancel and/or suspend almost all business travel regardless of destination.
“The need for government support for business travel suppliers is evident. GBTA is collaborating with other industry associations, industry bodies and supplier members to lobby governments in each of the key business travel regions for more financial support and a swift, safe return to business travel,” said Hilfman.
GBTA has been polling members since the beginning of the pandemic; the results of all polls can be accessed here.
GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from October 12-16, 2020. A total of 927 responses were received.
Visit gbta.org for more information.