By Brad Foster

A recent survey by Flight Centre of more than 1600 business travel managers predicts sluggish activity over the next 12 months and beyond.

Green shoots, however, are that 49 per cent of respondents said they had already started to travel or felt they would again within the next three months. But only half believed their business travel volumes will reach pre-coronavirus levels in the near term.

Respondents said the easing of border restrictions was the primary trigger for resuming business travel, with 70 per cent saying easing would have a “significant impact” on activity, closely followed by organisational endorsement that it was safe to travel.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Asia will lead the return to business travel, with 50 per cent of survey respondents already booking domestic travel and 37 per cent expecting to resume international travel within one to three months, dependent on the easing of border restrictions.

The weakest market appears to be the Americas, with 28 per cent saying they did not know when travel would return.

Mining and construction strong

Businesses in the mining and construction sectors indicate the fastest return to travel, with 64 per cent of respondents in the mining sector expected to travel domestically within one to three months and 69 per cent of respondents in the construction sector expected to travel domestically and internationally within the same time frame.

Construction (39 per cent), training and education (35 per cent) and the financial services (34 per cent) sectors indicate increasing business travel within the next six months.

Winning new business (43 per cent) and managing existing client relationships (39 per cent) are the two dominant business activities motivating organisations to a return to travel.