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

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Worldwide business travel spending is likely to jump more than 37% next year to more than $1 trillion, but the normally profitable industry won’t fully recover until 2024, according to new industry forecasts released Wednesday.

Rising COVID-19 cases and new variants, uneven vaccination rates, and supply chain problems are hurting the recovery this year, according to new forecasts from the World Business Travel Association. Spending on business travel this year is likely to rise 14% from 2020 to $754 billion, slower than the 21% year-over-year increase I forecast in February.

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

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

China and the United States are expected to lead the growth in business travel spending this year with growth of about 30% each, according to the report.

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