ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact the global business-travel industry, with companies cancelling meetings and instituting blanket business-travel cancellations, according to the latest research conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

GBTA members routinely send their employees to meetings and events throughout the world, with the primary destinations being North America, Europe, China, and the Asian-Pacific region. To understand the coronavirus’s effects on business travel, GBTA conducted its third lightning poll of membership on March 4 to 6, 2020 and compiled responses from more than 1,000 member companies throughout the world.

The poll found that around the globe, more companies are cancelling or suspending business travel due to the coronavirus. Business travel to Asia has been impacted the hardest, with at least three of every four companies reporting they’ve cancelled or suspended “all” or “most” business trips to China (95 per cent), Hong Kong (87 per cent), Taiwan (79 per cent) and other Asia-Pacific countries (e.g., Japan, South Korea and Malaysia; 77 per cent).

Almost one in five (18 per cent) companies has cancelled or suspended “all” or “most” travel to North America — up from two per cent 10 days earlier. Half (51 per cent) of GBTA members report their company has cancelled or suspended “all” or “most” business travel to Europe – up from eight per cent. 10 days ago.

Many companies have instituted blanket business-travel cancellations or suspensions due to the coronavirus. More than four in 10 (41 per cent) GBTA member companies report their company has cancelled or suspended all international travel, regardless of region. This is a significant increase from GBTA’s previous poll, when only seven per cent of companies reported doing so. The trend is similar when looking at company actions concerning domestic travel — 13 per cent of GBTA member companies report their company has canceled or suspended all domestic travel, compared to only two per cent in the last poll.

Overall, GBTA member companies, particularly business-travel suppliers such as airlines and hotels, are feeling a direct revenue impact due to the coronavirus. Nearly six in 10 (59 per cent) supplier members report the coronavirus has made a “significant” impact on their company’s revenue and another 27 per cent report a “moderate” impact to date.

“Coronavirus is significantly impacting the business-travel industry’s bottom line. As the virus continues to spread across the world, business travel is slowing at an alarming rate. The impact to the business travel industry — and to the broader economy — cannot be underestimated,” says Scott Solombrino, COO and executive director of the GBTA. “Traveller safety remains the industry’s primary concern, and we’re continuing to monitor conditions and respond appropriately. We encourage our member companies to heed the advice from all global health officials, such as the CDC and the WHO, when thinking about their travel plans. I’m confident in our efforts to ensure the health and safety of all travellers and know we will emerge from this downturn with an even stronger industry.”

Potential 2020 business travel spend revenue loss due to coronavirus

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Source: GBTA BTI™ Outlook Annual Global Report & Forecast (2019)
Methodology: GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from March 4 to 6, 2020 and received responses from 1,095 GBTA global member companies.

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