Rapid testing the only way to go

SINGAPORE, 27 October 2020: Travel buyers claim government restrictions and policies are now the biggest barriers to travel, according to a travel trends poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association.

GBTA conducted a poll of its members worldwide 12 to 16 October. Of the 927 responses from travel trade members, 76% believe that rapid testing prior to departure, and waiving quarantining requirements for those who test negative, to be the best way to open up international travel. Among GBTA’s European members, the number rose to 86%.

63% of European GBTA members and 43% globally cite government travel restrictions and policies, such as quarantine and entry restrictions, as the greatest barrier to travel. The poll cites company policy (32%) as the next barrier to travel, with employee unwillingness/ reluctance to travel (9%) and company cost savings (6%) to a lesser extent.

“The current patchwork approach to travel, particularly across Europe, is prolonging the devastating effects of Covid-19 on both the industry and the economy as a whole. It is evident from our latest poll that our members would welcome the opportunity to travel again in a safe environment and would be satisfied with the rapid testing approach pre-travel” said GBTA regional VP, Europe Catherine Logan.

Despite the rapid growth and necessity for virtual meetings, 82% of respondents still feel face-to-face meetings are ‘more’ or ‘much more’ effective. Fewer feel virtual meetings are equally effective (14%), and just 2% see virtual meetings as more effective.

“There is a clear indication that regular business travellers are looking forward to returning to travel and the benefits of a face-to-face meeting are undisputable. Almost all GBTA members (94%) flew for business prior to March 2020, before the start of the pandemic, but just 6% have flown since –  a clear illustration in the loss of revenue not only for the business travel industry but from corporations not closing new business deals to the wider global economy and GDP”, commented  GBTA interim executive director Dave Hilfman.

The poll figures showed 59% of GBTA member companies reduced staff or laid off employees as a direct result of the pandemic. 52% furloughed employees, and 48% introduced pay cuts. Almost half (46%) of those GBTA member organizations with furloughed employees report seen some return to work in some capacity.

The lack of government support continues to be a point of contention and 62% of members think it is ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ that further reductions or staff layoffs are inevitable if additional government aid is not received. Half (51%) predict further furloughs and 46% believe further pay cuts are likely or ‘very’ likely without government interaction.

The current short-term forecast for travel remains unchanged with 90% of GBTA member companies still not open to International travel and 68% domestically, as companies continue to cancel and / or suspend almost all business travel regardless of destination.

“The need for government support for business travel suppliers is evident. GBTA is collaborating with other industry associations, industry bodies and supplier members to lobby governments in each of the key business travel regions for more financial support and a swift, safe return to business travel”, said Hilfman.

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