Western Europe Braces for a Strong Comeback in Business Travel Spending
As per the research conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), business travel in Western Europe is expected to witness one of the most significant recoveries globally and is anticipated to reach pre-Covid spending levels by 2026. Unlike other regions, Europe suffered a decline in corporate travel expenditure in both 2020 and 2021 due to the impact of the pandemic. However, the Business Travel Index (BTI) Outlook by GBTA has predicted that the continent is on track to become the fastest-growing business travel market in 2023, with spending projected to increase by 25.3% this year, compensating for the lost ground.
The GBTA’s regional vice president, Catherine Logan, stated that the elimination of border restrictions in 2022 has resulted in a substantial increase in business travel spending across the region, which is estimated to rise by 61.7% compared to 2021. Western Europe has witnessed a 23% YoY increase in business travel spending to reach $194 billion in 2022, accounting for 58% of the region’s annual expenditure before Covid. Emerging Europe, which includes countries in central and eastern Europe, also saw a 53% increase to reach $30.8 billion in 2022.
Despite a positive start to the year, rising inflation and economic crises pose a threat to further progress in 2023. Europe still ranks third in the world for business travel spending, with a 20% share of the total, although this is 7 percentage points lower than in 2019. In 2022, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands accounted for 65% of corporate travel expenditure in the region.
GBTA’s analysis highlights that different industries have been recovering at varying rates, with manufacturing leading the way, outpacing the overall level of corporate travel recovery. Conversely, industries such as information and communication, public administration, finance, and insurance are making a slower average rate of return. Additionally, data indicate that the gap in spending between Europe’s two largest markets, Germany and the UK, has widened over the past decade. In 2013, Germany’s travel spending was 23% higher than the UK’s, which increased to a 31% difference in 2017 and rose to 33% in 2022.