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Business and Corporate Incentive Travel
| August 24, 2019
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Article | April 13, 2021
The past year has been one of the most challenging for the travel industry. We saw the end of the expansion of the sector replaced by uncertainty, but it has reinforced our mission to bring the industry together to respond to travelers’ needs.
Our industry is famously resilient. Following the initial shock of the pandemic and the reduction of global travel volumes, the industry has rapidly adapted. Despite the challenges of this crisis, there is cause for much optimism because of two fundamental reasons: people’s innate love for travel and the creativity of our industry. Both will help to harness new opportunities for our industries as we rebuild.
With trade shows cancelled and companies limiting or even banning travel, Mark Manduca, aviation analyst at Citi, recently raised the question: “Will corporate travel ever truly recover again?” When the coronavirus crisis is over, will companies that have managed just fine with video conferencing decide to carry on, given how much cheaper it is? We have heard similar questions before. I wrote an article in the early 1990s, after the first Gulf war and the economic downturn, quoting experts who said company bosses had noticed a fall in costs from the resulting decline in travel and decided to make it permanent. Similar things were said after 9/11. Every economic slowdown produces the same statements.
Technology’s a double-edged sword, and it will just get sharper. On one hand, it’s wonderful to have a complete toolbox in one hand (camera, photo library and editor, tickets and itinerary, currency converter, maps and navigation) and access to the wider online world. On the other, it will become even more a DIY world. Not connecting to the cloud? Well you’ll have to Google the issue and fix that. Contacts not loading? Same. Check in online, get to the airport, fix your bag tags and put them on the belt. Tech will become better and more frustrating all at the same time in 2020 and beyond.
Just over a month ago, many of us sat in our offices, surrounded by colleagues, engaged in deep discussions about how best to leverage the increasing demand in travel this year. As per the World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) forecasts from earlier this year, international tourist arrivals were expected to grow by 4% in 2020, which is not as great as the growth seen in 2017 (7%) and 2018 (6%), but it was still enough to continue fueling the tourism industry, which contributes to about 10.4% of the global GDP and approximately 319 million jobs. We were blissfully unaware of the looming threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic. In fact, several parts of the world failed to take notice of this crown-shaped virus that was about to bring everything to a grinding halt, until March 11, when the World Health Organization officially announced it as a pandemic.
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