The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is readjusting its projected spending forecast upward on global corporate travel in the coming years, with new projections peaking in 2027 at $1.8 trillion (the range of the projections are 2024-2027). The positive news is part of the 2023 GBTA Business Travel Index Outlook Annual Global Report and Forecast, its yearly findings in collaboration with Visa, which was announced at the association’s convention in Dallas this week. The expansive report includes data from 72 countries and 44 industries, as well as input from 4,700 business travelers across five global regions.
With global recession fears in 2022 and 2023 abated—for now—both years have seen stronger than expected rebound in the sector across the world. GBTA now predicts that spending will crest pre-pandemic levels in 2024 at $1.4 trillion, besting the previously estimated mid-2026 recovery date. The report also credits the progress that has been made in combating the pandemic for the accelerated pace, as well as the return of in-person meetings.
“The headwinds that were anticipated to impact the rebound of global business travel over the past year didn’t materialize and that is good news. This latest forecast now indicates an accelerated return to pre-pandemic spending levels sooner than anticipated as well as growth ahead in the coming years. Business travel spending is a key indicator, but how travel volumes will continue to rebound is yet to be seen,” said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang. “The BTI data also reflects the remarkable efforts of the industry to adapt, innovate, and thrive despite the challenges, along with the ongoing role and value of business travel to economies, companies, and professionals worldwide.”
Some of the report’s findings:
- In 2022, global business travel spending rose 47 percent to $1.03 trillion. These strong gains have continued into 2023, with 32 percent growth in global expenditures expected this year. The estimated breakdown of the $1.03 trillion in business travel expenditures includes $183 billion in air spend, $395 billion in lodging spend, $191 billion in food and beverage spend, $138 billion in ground transportation spend, and $121 billion in other travel expenses.
- Recovery in business travel continues to vary by region. Western Europe was the fastest growing region globally in 2022. North America and Latin America saw spending growth accelerate significantly in 2022. Emerging Europe continues to lag in its recovery, challenged by the war in the Ukraine. Further, although China lags behind the rest of the world due to its late economic reopening, is it projected to claim the top spot in 2023.
- The industries with the strongest resiliency include construction, education, and professional, scientific, and technical activities.
- GBTA is keeping an eye on factors that could impact future projections, including increased focus on sustainability initiatives, widespread adoption of meeting technologies, growth in the remote workforce, and the rise of blended travel (bleisure).
- Business travelers globally currently estimate their own business travel spending, on average, amounts to $1,018 per person per trip. On average, lodging accounts for $391 while ground transportation clocks in at $136. Also, bleisure is still a rising trend.
GBTA members can download the full report on the GBTA Hub.
Visit gbta.org for more information.