Business travel demand expected to surge in 2022, but full recovery still two years away

Key Points
  • Business travel spending rose more slowly than expected this year, according to a new industry report.
  • Covid variants, uneven vaccination rates and case surges slowed growth.
  • Business travel will likely rise next year but a recovery to pre-pandemic levels isn't likely until 2024.
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Business travel spending worldwide will likely jump more than 37% next year to over $1 trillion but the normally lucrative industry won't fully recover until 2024, according to a new industry forecast released Wednesday.

Surges in Covid cases and new variants, uneven vaccination rates and supply chain problems hurt this year's recovery, according to the Global Business Travel Association's new forecast. Business travel spending this year will likely rise 14% from 2020 to $754 billion, slower than the 21% year-over-year increase it forecast in February.

The pace of recovery is crucial for large global airlines that are struggling to return to profitability as well as for hotel chains and restaurants that rely heavily on business travelers. Those customers are often more willing to pay higher prices compared with vacationers.

Global business travel spending fell 54% to $661 billion in 2020 from $1.4 trillion 2019.

China and the U.S. are expected to lead business travel spending this year with growth of about 30% apiece, according to the report.