Business travel industry buyers and suppliers alike see a brighter path to recovery following the U.S. government’s announcement it will lift entry restrictions on international travelers and what seems to be the waning of the U.S. late-summer Covid-19 delta variant wave, according to a new survey.
The share of member travel managers and procurement professionals surveyed Oct. 4-13 by the Global Business Travel Association who indicated their travelers were “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business was 78 percent, the highest recorded in the monthly polls the association has conducted since last year and up from 69 percent the month prior. GBTA surveyed 252 member buyers.
Optimism among travel suppliers and travel management company professionals is increasing too. In fact, 52 percent of suppliers surveyed indicated they were more optimistic about the industry’s recovery than they were in September, with 10 percent more pessimistic. About 55 percent indicated their companies’ bookings had increased month over month, as well.
GBTA drew a straight line between the decision to ease U.S. entry restrictions and the increased optimism. “While we have seen ever-increasing domestic and short-haul travel, a more accelerated recovery has been hindered by the lack of international transatlantic travel,” GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang said in a statement. “The opening of the much-anticipated Europe- and U.K.-to-U.S. travel corridors, as well as the opening of land borders to Canada and Mexico, will give a much-needed boost to the business travel ecosystem and global economy.”
To wit, about 23 percent of suppliers surveyed said they believed the amount of international travel to the U.S. would “greatly increase” during the next six months as a result of the U.S. government action, while another 50 percent projected it would “moderately increase,” and 26 percent forecast it would “slightly increase.”
Meanwhile, the daily count of new U.S. Covid-19 cases has dropped steadily after peaking in the latest wave in late August. Business travel bookings seem to have increased commensurately.
Still, 38 percent of the member buyers and procurement professionals surveyed indicated they are more likely to contract with travel suppliers who require guests or passengers to prove they are vaccinated against Covid-19, while another 38 percent indicated they were not. The remainder didn’t know.
About 90 percent of the 467 buyer and supplier members GBTA surveyed said they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with another 1 percent indicating partial vaccination. About 3 percent said they were not vaccinated, and the remaining 6 percent wouldn’t answer.