Biz Travel Essential to World Economy, Needs to Rebound: Global Business Travel Association

November 13, 2020 Admin

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) says business travel is an essential part of the world’s economy and needs to get moving again.

“We’ve got to find a way to get these borders open, whether it’s for business or leisure, we’ve got to find a way,” GBTA Interim Executive Director Dave Hilfman said during a virtual presentation to this year’s conference of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies.

Hilfman said a survey of the 9,000 GBTA members around the world found that they see an increase in rapid testing prior to travelling by air as the best way to safely open international travel.

“These tests are getting far more accurate, being produced in high volume, and the price is coming down. So, whether it’s at the airport, or being done by government or airlines … that is going to make so much difference,” he said.

Hilfman also said the “patchwork approach” to fighting COVID-19 around the world is causing havoc.

“Everybody talks about the fact that government restrictions, we need to get them standardized. Quarantines, border closures and lockdowns are just not the answer. We have to find a way, we think through testing, contact tracing, and just general common sense, using the science will make all the difference in the world.”

Nancy Tudorache, Regional Vice President, Canada for the GBTA, said business travel “is essential to the health of any economy.”

“In person meetings matter,” she said. “Business travel matters. In Canada, business travel is a significant contributor to our economy. It contributes more than $40.1 billion Canadian dollars to our national GD, and (pre-pandemic) it supports more than 525,000 jobs in Canada.”

“By directly connecting companies with customers and partners worldwide, travel creates jobs and drives growth in ways that remote communications simply cannot,” Tudorache said.

Video and zoom chats are great, but Tudorache said a study in the Harvard Business Review found that in-person sessions “are 34 times more likely to create positive response than non face-to-face meetings.”

Personal interaction and connections “cannot be replaced by technology,” she said.

She also noted that the pandemic “has done inconceivable damage to the supply chain that supports business travel itself.”

Tudorache said business travel around the world was down 87% in the first few months of the pandemic and that $108.5 billion dollars in global revenue is being lost every month.

“It’s huge, it’s devastating.”

It will take time, but both speakers agreed things will get better.

“Business travel may not look the way it did before, but business travel is going to return in a safe, much cleaner way with new technologies, new protocols, and, frankly, a better understanding of preparedness,” Hilfman said. “I think everybody should be optimistic, with the appropriate concern about making sure we do this in the right way, in the wise way, in the proper way. But business travel has to be back.”

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