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Business travel trips drop back as Omicron spreads and restrictions tighten, new figures show

·2-min read
Business travel has been severely disrupted in the pandemic   (PA Archive)
Business travel has been severely disrupted in the pandemic (PA Archive)

Business travel trips have dropped back during December as countries around the world tighten travel restrictions in response to the surging Omicron variant, new figures suggest.

The sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, as companies have got used to making deals and holding meetings with global partners remotely via Zoom or Google Teams. Pre-Covid such deals would have seen executives jet off to meet prospective business partners in person.

Although remaining below 2019 levels, corporate travel had begun to recover momentum in recent months, however.

But the new Omicron variant and resultant restrictions have set the nascent recovery back, data from Travelogix and the Business Travel Association showed today.

The tracker found there were 22,452 fewer UK business travel trips in the second week of December, compared to the first week of the month "due to increased travel restrictions following the Omicron Covid-19 variant".

The number of international business travel trips from the UK in the week was down nearly 77% on 2019.

The BTA's chief executive, Clive Wratten, today criticised a lack of specific support for the sector in the Chancellor's newly-unveiled £1billion emergency support package for businesses.

He said: “It is devastating to see that once again business travel and its supply chain have been left out of Government financial support.... A vital part of the UK economy and the driver behind global Britain is being left in the cold."

Several countries have already tightened Covid and travel restrictions. The Netherlands implemented a lockdown over the weekend, and Israel has got set to ban travel to the US and Canada.

The update comes a day after the annual Davos Economic Forum, which sees business and political leaders from around the world convene in the Swiss town each January, was postponed.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) said: "Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary."

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