How the COVID-19 recovery will affect 14 top business travel markets

In the two and a half years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every industry has been fundamentally transformed, from healthcare and retail to shipping and manufacturing. But one of the first and most deeply affected industries to feel the initial blow of the pandemic was travel.

The mass cancellation of flight, train and rental car reservations in March 2020 sent the travel sector into a spiral, with business travel the most severely affected. Pre-pandemic, the global business travel industry was responsible for $1.4 trillion in direct spending. when spent 38% growth is expected this year With global business travel spending back to more than $1 trillion, a return to pre-pandemic levels likely won’t happen before 2024.

To better understand the outlook for future travel in various global markets, TravelPark uses the Global Business Travel Association’s Business Travel Spending Report to rank the countries that spend the most on domestic and international business travel.

There are several challenges with forecasting business travel during such uncertain times. GBTA’s report focuses on its ability to analyze high-frequency data on flight and hotel demand and its relationship with other economic and epidemiological data. Generally speaking, business travel activity rises and falls with global output. However, there is a significant break in the trend in 2020 as the pandemic has affected business travel much more than overall economic activity.

This study of global business travel activity looked at a total of 73 countries from 44 different industries, and the top 14 are included in this story. Russia, originally in the top 15, was dropped due to the war’s impact on business travel estimates.

This study includes business travel expenditure, productivity and growth and defines business travel expenditure as domestic and international outbound expenditure, considering the source of business travel. The sources used are from the supply side, such as airlines, hotel and rental car companies, as well as governments, travel research groups, and others.

Featured data points include estimates drawn from actual business travel figures for 2019-2020 and estimates drawn from projected figures for 2021-2025. As part of the comprehensive list, COVID-19 data from Our World in Data is included.

As many countries still apply varying levels of travel restrictions, this may make full recovery of the sector difficult. An updated map of the latest restrictions can be found on the World Travel Restrictions website of the United Nations World Food Programme.

A woman waits for a train in Japan.

#14. Japan

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -57.0%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -36.7%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +17.5%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases (as of July 13, 2022): 9,901,424
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 79,457.69
  • Notable peak period: Feb. 1, 2022-Feb. 9, 2022 (758.28 cases per 1M people)

TravelPerk simplifies business travel management, so companies can stay up to date with the latest travel restrictions and flexibly change or cancel trips.

A man in a gray suit looks at his phone on the street while pulling a suitcase

#13. UK

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -60.0%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -17.2%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +12.4%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 23,159,426
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 344,219.20
  • Notable peak period: Dec. 29, 2021-Jan. 5, 2022 (2,718.57 cases per 1M people)
A man with a leather briefcase sits on the steps while working on his laptop.

#12. India

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -58.4%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -14.4%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +4.9%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 43,689,989
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 31,039.44
  • Significant Peak Period: May 1, 2021-May 8, 2021 (277.95 cases per 1M people)
Evening orange sky over Seoul, South Korea.

#11. South Korea

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -60.5%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -14.3%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +1.1%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 18,641,278
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 359,660.97
  • Significant Peak Period: May 10, 2022-May 17, 2022 (7,893.94 cases per 1M people)
Business passengers waiting at the airport.

#10. Canada

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -54.3%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -10.7%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +7.9%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 4,000,304
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 104,843.47
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 3, 2022-Jan. 10, 2022 (1,087.00 cases per 1M people)

Access the most convenient travel management software such as TravelPerk’s app that includes features for tracking travel expenses and expense reporting.

Aerial view of Cologne, Germany.

#9. Germany

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -61.5%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -7.8%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +5.0%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 29,460,249
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 353,204.17
  • Significant Peak Period: March 24, 2022-March 31, 2022 (3,015.39 cases per 1M people)
Two merchants sit by a fountain in Rome.

#8. Italy

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -62.1%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -4.3%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +9.7%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 19,778,911
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 333,875.77
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 7, 2022-Jan. 14, 2022 (3,069.22 cases per 1M people)
Cityscape and water in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

#7. Brazil

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -55.4%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: -2.7%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: -0.4%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 33,076,779
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 154,329.13
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 22, 2022-Jan. 29, 2022 (882.89 cases per 1M people)
Obscure traders walk to work in France.

#6. France

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -56.6%
  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2020 to 2021: +1.4%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +6.3%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 32,737,629
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 485,563.01
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 18, 2022-Jan. 25, 2022 (5,436.72 cases per 1M people)
Izmir city in Turkey at night.

#5. Turkey

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -33.7%
  • Estimated Change in Business Travel Spending from 2020 to 2021: +6.8%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: -11.1%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 15,297,539
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 180,447.85
  • Notable peak period: Feb. 1, 2022-Feb. 8, 2022 (1,219.40 cases per 1M people)
Skyscrapers in Melbourne City, Australia.

#4. Australia

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -60.9%
  • Estimated Change in Business Travel Spending from 2020 to 2021: +11.1%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: -1.6%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 8,653,081
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 333,823.98
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 6, 2022-Jan. 13, 2022 (4,213.35 cases per 1M people)
Aerial view of Alicante, Spain.

#3. spain

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -57.0%
  • Estimated Change in Business Travel Spending from 2020 to 2021: +12.7%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +8.5%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 13,032,841
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 274,451.09
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 6, 2022-Jan. 13, 2022 (3,032.60 cases per 1M people)
Two women discussing business over coffee.

#2 The United States

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -61.2%
  • Estimated Change in Business Travel Spending from 2020 to 2021: +30.8%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +11.2%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 89,149,655
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 264,540.90
  • Notable peak period: Jan. 8, 2022-Jan. 15, 2022 (2,397.05 cases per 1M people)

Make your next work trip a success using TravelPerk’s corporate travel management guide.

Laptop and business folder on bed in hotel room.

#1 China

  • Estimated change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2020: -41.4%
  • Estimated Change in Business Travel Spending from 2020 to 2021: +31.7%
  • Projected change in business travel spending from 2019 to 2025: +9.9%

COVID-19 Trends:

  • Cumulative COVID-19 cases: 893,814
  • Estimated cases per 1M people: 626.85
  • Significant Peak Period: April 8, 2022-April 15, 2022 (18.63 cases per 1M people)
Estimated changes in business travel expenses
the country 2019 to 2020 2020 to 2021 2019 to 2025
Australia -60.9% +11.1% -1.6%
Brazil -55.4% -2.7% -0.4%
Canada -54.3% -10.7% +7.9%
China -41.4% +31.7% +9.9%
France -56.6% +1.4% +6.3%
Germany -61.5% -7.8% +5.0%
India -58.4% -14.4% +4.9%
Italy -62.1% -4.3% +9.7%
Japan -57.0% -36.7% +17.5%
South Korea -60.5% -14.3% +1.1%
spain -57.0% +12.7% +8.5%
Turkey -33.7% +6.8% -11.1%
UK -60.0% -17.2% +12.4%
United States -61.2% +30.8% +11.2%

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