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The world is facing the biggest threat it has seen in a century. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a health crisis, it’s a global economic crisis, and experts say its effects will be felt for years to come. Since March, over 20 million Americans have lost their jobs, and most of these job losses have been within the hospitality, tourism, and travel sectors.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t surprising. As the virus spread from China to the rest of Asia, Europe and America, countries began closing their borders to outsiders and in some cases, their own citizens. All but the most essential businesses shut down and stay at home and social distancing orders were issued.

However, although the internet has been especially helpful in the transition to working from home, some aspects of business haven’t adapted so well. Business travel, for instance, has been brought to an almost total standstill.

Companies spend $111.7 billion per year shuttling their employees to and fro, and this shows just how integral business travel is. Globalization made it easier for firms to transact across borders and seas, find cheaper raw materials, and forge new partnerships. And while the internet did help, face to face meetings are needed to enhance credibility, trust and to build strong relationships.

However, things may be a little different, even after the pandemic dies down. Experts caution that it may take us up to two years to be completely rid of the virus. Even if corporate travel does come back, says, you can be sure that it won’t be the same as it was before.

Like with the hospitality, tourism, and restaurant industries, close human contact is inevitable with corporate travel. The fact that different regions have been affected and are reopening at different rates makes it even more challenging.

Will a business traveler be comfortable traveling to a region that still has a high number of cases from a relatively healthy region? Will they be blocked from entering say, Sydney, because they had a meeting in London a week or two before? How efficient will the safety protocols at the airport be?

These are questions that will undoubtedly arise when we start talking about business travel again. Like most industries that have been affected by the pandemic, business travel will come back, but it will just be different.

According to Tom Solombrino, Executive Director and COO of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), it will take three to four years to get back to 2019 business travel levels. “It’ll take time and effort, but it’s not going away, and I believe that in three or four years we will all be back, as long as the economy is keeping pace.”

If you want to learn how you can tweak your company’s travel policy to make it aligned with the realities brought by COVID-19, contact and learn how our services can be of help to you.