When will business travel return?

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While many people have taken at least one leisure trip after the pandemic, business trips have not been as quick to come back. Here are some of the latest projections on when people will start traveling for business.

Pre-pandemic business travel levels

A report by a US travel association estimates that households and businesses spent a total of $ 1.1 trillion on travel in 2019. Of the $ 1.1 trillion spending, business travel was about $ 334.2 billion – that figure fell by about 70% in 2020. Leisure travel fell only 27% last year, according to the association.

While travel companies were optimistic about an increase in business travel in early 2021, after leisure travel bounced back so quickly, the Delta variant, travel restrictions and other factors are delaying the recovery date.

Business travel in 2021 (so far)

Although experts expect leisure travel to return to the norm before the pandemic as early as 2022, business travel will take a few more years. In general, there was a sense of optimism as late as July 2021 among airlines that business travel would return in the fall when the peak leisure travel season ended on Labor Day. For example, domestic airlines predicted a good year after suffering steep, unexpected losses (and government rescues) in 2020.

Unfortunately, the Delta variant appeared in late summer, and now carriers and travelers are calling back their travel plans.

The US Travel Association has not yet published estimates for the calendar year 2021, but currently expects business volume not to return to normal until 2024 or later.


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Airlines are seeing business travel volumes at around 40% of their 2019 levels. Prior to the Delta variant, airlines estimated that business travel falls to be 60% of pre-pandemic levels. For example, hotels in Washington, DC are very dependent on business expenses. But bookings for business travel have fallen 86% since 2019 and are also lower than in 2020.

Hotels and resorts in Hawaii could lose as much as $ 1 billion. In business travel revenue for 2021. This tropical state is a popular getaway for leisure travel during the summer months and holidays. But it is also a year-round favorite for business and leisure travel.