The travel industry is one of the worst-affected sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic as countries closed borders and airlines grounded their fleet. While leisure travel is expected to rebound slowly, business travel is expected to take longer to recover, according to Oxford Business Group.

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess how long it would take for business travel to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Analysis of the poll results shows that a majority of respondents anticipate it to take a year or more before hitting pre-COVID-19 levels.

The poll, still open, has been available on Verdict network sites, since 05 Jun 2020.

COVID-19 impact on business travel

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to opt for virtual meetings and teleconferencing to protect their employees from the risk of infection. The industry is estimated to have lost $518bn since March 2020, according to Global Business Travel Association.

Experts predict that business travel may take from one to three years to recover, although some predict that between 5% and 10% of business travel will never return due to failure and bankruptcies of companies that accounted for business travel, according to Forbes.

Further, a few companies are expected to permanently shift some of their business travel to virtual meetings as the latter are being conducted efficiently.

Business travel related to conferences and conventions is also unlikely to return anytime soon due to the need for social distancing. The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry estimated that more than 500 trade shows were cancelled in March resulting in €23bn ($25.4bn) in lost orders, according to Oxford Business Group.