GBTA forecast expects key business travel markets in Europe to recover fully in 2026

Europe is anticipated to be the fastest growing business travel market in 2023

The business travel industry in Europe continues its progress towards full recovery to its pre-pandemic spending levels of $392 billion, but the divergent recovery in business travel continues across the region.  

Europe’s business travel spend now accounts for approximately 20% of global business travel spend compared to 27% in 2019.

Emerging Europe and Western Europe were the only regions globally to experience spending declines in 2021, as Covid impacted domestic and regional business travel markets.

However, Western Europe is expected to experience one of the sharpest recoveries by 2026. This is according to the most recent Business Travel Index™ Outlook annual forecast and outlook, from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association.

Catherine Logan, Regional Vice President, EMEA and APAC for GBTA said

In 2021, Western European business travel spend continued to be hit by the pandemic more than any other region in the world. As restrictions eased and borders re-opened, a significant pent-up demand led to a surge in business travel across the region.

Europe regained ground in 2022 and is now forecast to become the fastest growing business travel market in 2023.

Europe’s business travel spend is expected to grow by 25.3% in 2023.

Key Takeaways for Europe from the Latest GBTA BTI Outlook:

  • The recovery in both Western and Emerging Europe lagged relative to North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East. In 2020, Europe’s business travel spend declined 58.1%, the second largest percentage drop of any global region. In 2021, most of the world saw a modest recovery, however, Europe was the only region that saw business travel spend continue to fall, declining an additional 15.4% to $139 billion.
  • Despite earlier declines, Europe remains the third largest business travel region in the world with 20% of global spend in 2022. Western Europe accounts for 86% of Europe’s business travel spend, while Emerging Europe accounts for the remaining 14%.

Six countries — UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands — accounted for 65.1% of business travel expenditures in the region last year.

The Recovery in Europe

  • In 2022, Europe was forecasted to be the fastest growing business travel market with spend growing 61.7%. Europe’s business travel spend is expected to grow another 25.3% in 2023.
  • Western European business travel spending climbed 23% in 2022, recovering to $194 billion, or 58% of pre-pandemic spending levels, whereas Emerging Europe business travel spend recovered 53% to $30.8 billion.
  • The two largest markets European markets, UK and Germany, have recovered less (in percentage terms) than the broader region. France, Spain, and three of the four Nordic markets — Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have recovered more than the broader region.
  • Two Emerging Europe markets are showing particularly strong forecasts: Turkey has returned to 87.1% and Poland to 72.1% of its pre-pandemic spend.