Business travel has accounted for one third of growth in global trade over the past decade, improved global corporate productivity tenfold and created millions of jobs worldwide, according to the latest economic impact research released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
As the world economy recovers from global recession, bookings indicate that companies are still cautious to restore travel budgets. Virtual meeting technology provides an alternative to in-person meetings and environmental concerns are influencing both corporate and government policies regarding travel.
These current industry trends have prompted the latest business travel research that was commissioned by WTTC on behalf of its members and seeks to examine the role that business travel plays in driving corporate performance and in the development of the global economy.
Key findings from the research show:
Growth in business travel from 2000 - 2007 helped create over 40 million jobs through increases in trade and productivity representing 20% of the growth in global employment over the same period.
Global business travellers believe that 50% of their prospective customers are converted to new customers with an in-person meeting compared with 31% without such a meeting.
If business travel were cut by 25% for two consecutive years, global GDP would be 5% lower than would otherwise be the case after a five-year period resulting in 30 million fewer jobs than forecast under baseline assumptions for the same period - an average loss of 1% of global employment.
Business travel improves corporate productivity yielding a return on investment of 10:1.
Business travel is integral to international trade and it is estimated that one third of global trade over the past decade has been driven by international business travel.
On behalf of WTTC, Oxford Economics carried out surveys on 500 global business travellers and executives in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and China. In addition to this, an econometric analysis covering 190 countries tested for causal relationships between business travel and national economic performance.
David Scowsill, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council, commented: "As the industry begins to recover from the financial crisis, the business travel segment has remained in flux, so we wanted to examine in more detail the role that business travel plays in driving corporate performance.
"Our findings corroborate that business travel not only helps company profitability; it also grows economies, raises incomes, and creates jobs." He added: "Evidence should make CEOs aware of the substantial risks that they run when they cut back in this important segment, which accounts for one quarter of global Travel & Tourism spending. I urge business leaders and policy makers to consider the implications of these findings and to put business travel back on the corporate agenda."
The findings of the global business travel report were revealed during the 11th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Las Vegas. The research was sponsored by American Express Company, Singapore Tourism Board, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and US Travel Association.