London, UK – The business travel industry in Europe continues its progress towards full recovery to its pre-pandemic spending levels of USD $392 billion, but the divergent recovery in business travel continues across the region. Europe’s business travel spend now accounts for approximately 20% of global spend compared to 27% in 2019.
Emerging Europe and Western Europe were the only regions globally to experience spending declines in 2021, as COVID-19 impacted domestic and regional business travel markets. However, Western Europe is expected to experience one the sharpest recoveries by 2026. This is according to the most recent Business Travel Index™ Outlook annual forecast and outlook (2022), from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association.
In 2021, Western European business travel spend continued to be hit by the pandemic more than any other region in the world. As restrictions eased and borders re-opened, a significant pent-up demand led to a surge in business travel spend across the region. Europe regained ground in 2022 and is now forecast to become the fastest growing business travel market in 2023. Europe’s business travel spend is expected to grow by 25.3% in 2023. Despite this healthy start to the year, there is caution as uncertainty continues due to rising inflation and economic crisis, all threatening to derail progress as we move further into 2023. Catherine Logan, Regional Vice President, EMEA and APAC for GBTA
Key Takeaways for Europe from the Latest GBTA BTI Outlook:
- The recovery in both Western and Emerging Europe lagged relative to North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East. In 2020, Europe’s business travel spend declined 58.1%, the second largest percentage drop of any global region. In 2021, most of the world saw a modest recovery, however, Europe was the only region that saw business travel spend continue to fall, declining an additional 15.4% to $139 billion.
- Despite earlier declines, Europe remains the third largest business travel region in the world with 20% of global spend in 2022. Western Europe accounts for 86% of Europe’s business travel spend, while Emerging Europe accounts for the remaining 14%.
Six countries — Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands — accounted for 65.1% of business travel expenditures in the region last year.
The Recovery in Europe
- In 2022, Europe was forecasted to be the fastest growing business travel market with spend growing 61.7%. Europe’s business travel spend is expected to grow another 25.3% in 2023.
- Western European business travel spending climbed 23% in 2022, recovering to $194 billion, or 58% of pre-pandemic spending levels, whereas Emerging Europe business travel spend recovered 53% to $30.8 billion.
- The two largest markets European markets, Germany and the UK, have recovered less (in percentage terms) than the broader region. France, Spain, and three of the four Nordic markets — Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have recovered more than the broader region.
- Two Emerging Europe markets are showing particularly strong forecasts: Turkey has returned to 87.1% and Poland to 72.1% of its pre-pandemic spend.
- CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in business travel expenditure in Western Europe between 2021-2026 is expected to be 23.4% and 10.9% in Emerging Europe. UK, Finland, and Ireland are forecast to make the biggest percentage gains.
- Business travel spend forecasts vary across industries in Europe with some showing more resilience than others post pandemic.
- The Manufacturing industry remains the largest in Europe with $61.5 billion of annual business travel spend. It has reached 63% of pre-pandemic spend levels and outpaces Europe’s overall recovery level of 57%.
- Levels of business travel spend in some industries including Information and Communication, Public Administration, and Finance and Insurance are returning at a slower average rate.
- Western Europe includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
- Emerging Europe includes Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
- GBTA members can download a full copy of the BTI Outlook on the GBTA members-only hub. The report was conducted in partnership with Rockport Analytics, a research and analytical consulting firm.
About GBTA BTI™ Outlook
The report provides a detailed analysis of business travel in 2022 with projections for 2023 and beyond, including post-COVID-19 recovery forecasts. Now in its 14th edition, the GBTA BTI Outlook is an exhaustive annual study of business travel spending and growth covering 73 countries across 44 industries.
About the Global Business Travel Association
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world's premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA's members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy, and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts.
About the GBTA Foundation
The mission of the GBTA Foundation, the US 501c3 charitable arm of GBTA, is to help the global business travel industry create a positive impact and a better future for people and the planet. The GBTA Foundation focuses on the strategy and execution of GBTA's global sustainability programs, supporting initiatives related to climate action; diversity, equity and inclusion; and other talent-related topics via education, research and advocacy.