Although the tourism industry has seen a significant recovery since the depths of the pandemic, business travel is still struggling to make a rebound.
According to a report from the Global Business Travel Association, business travel grew 5.5% to $697 billion year-over-year in 2021, significantly less than the $1.4 trillion seen in 2019.
However, the report indicates that this decline may not be temporary.
In fact, among those who traveled at least three times per year for business prior to the pandemic, two in five say they never expect to do so again according to research from Morning Consult.
This is especially prominent in Europe, with 55% of UK respondents and 59% of France respondents saying they will never travel for work again. However, those in Brazil, China and India are expected to see their business travel be a prominent part of their future.
Although the report does not designate why business travel may never recover, there are some theories out there as to why.
For starters, the shift to hybrid and remote working has made business travel less relevant at work. Instead of spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on transportation, meetings can easily be done through video conferencing software no matter where professionals are.
“I think about my lost productivity and personal time, my boss’s money and the pollution spewing from my plane,” said Farhad Manjoo, a journalist.
Not only does this make conducting meetings easier, but it also helps companies that are trying to mitigate their costs, a worry that has grown tenfold as the threat of a recession increases.
However, business travel isn’t totally obsolete — companies are simply being more particular about the necessity of each trip.