Global business travel could suffer $820bn virus hit, says group

The global spread of the coronavirus is increasingly affecting business travelers, an industry body said.

Business travel coronavirus
Police officers check a passenger's documents at Torino Porta Susa railway station in Italy, which has been in an unprecedented lockdown to curb the coronavirus spread [File: Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

The global business travel sector is expected to take a revenue hit of about $820bn, with China accounting for nearly half of the losses, as corporates curb travel plans in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, an industry body said on Tuesday.

Business travel to Asia has been the worst hit, with at least three out of every four companies reporting they have cancelled or suspended all or most business trips to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific destinations, according to a survey by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

The industry group’s latest estimate is sharply above its February forecast of a $560bn hit.

The fast-spreading virus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in China, while disrupting businesses globally.

“Coronavirus is significantly impacting the business travel industry’s bottom line,” GBTA Chief Operating Officer Scott Solombrino said in a statement.

“The impact to the business travel industry – and to the broader economy – cannot be underestimated.”

China, which has seen a 95-percent drop in business travel since the outbreak, is expected to lose $404.1bn in revenue from corporate travel, followed by $190.5bn in loss for Europe.

Airline and hotel industries, which typically are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate spending, have taken a major hit to their revenue as the virus continues to spread, the industry group said.

Source: Reuters