GBTA, Visa Say Business Travel Rebounded Faster Than Expected

business travel

Business travel is bouncing back following a pent-up demand for in-person meetings and events as the world moves beyond the pandemic.

This rebound is occurring faster than expected, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and Visa said in a Monday (Aug. 14) press release.

Global business travel expenditures totaled $1.03 trillion in 2022, increasing 47% from the year before, according to the release. This is thanks to a combination of factors, including 2021’s unfulfilled demand for travel, a more favorable global economic environment and an improved post-COVID-19 landscape.

While the industry’s recovery is already well underway, it’s expected to surpass the pre-pandemic spending level of $1.4 billion by 2024 and continue to grow to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027, the release said.

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, GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang said in the release. 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.

The global travel spending in 2022 included $395 billion spent on lodging, $191 billion on food and beverage, $183 billion spent on air travel, $138 billion on ground transportation, and $121 billion in other travel expenses, according to the press release.

Western Europe was the fastest-growing region globally in 2022, the release said. North America and Latin America followed close behind, with strong growth in 2022 and 2023.

China lagged behind last year due to the delayed reopening of the Chinese economy and experienced a 4.6% business travel spending decrease, per the release. However, China is estimated to recover its the top spot among business travel markets by the end of 2023.

Gloria Colgan, senior vice president and global head of products at Visa Commercial Solutions, said she was optimistic.

As travel continues to rebound, we expect digital payments to continue to grow because they make it easier and more secure to do things like purchase plane tickets for business travel or split a check at dinner,” Colgan said.

The demand for digital payments just keeps expanding, especially in newer and emerging markets, Colgan told PYMNTS in an interview posted Friday (Aug. 11).

We have multiple tools in the toolkit, from an internal perspective, and as well as a partnership perspective, to expand acceptance on the commercial front, Colgan said at the time.