U.S. Travel: Pandemic Business Travel Loss to Cost Hundreds of Billions


The business travel and group meeting sector of the U.S. economy in 2020 missed out on $211 billion in revenue because of the pandemic and will miss out on plenty more in the coming years, according to a new U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics projection. 

At Wednesday’s U.S. Travel Association press conferences, Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics stated that “before we get all right” in 2024 “we will have spent $522 billion less.” Additional $77 billion would be lost to international business travel, Sacks said.

According to U.S. travel, the transient and group travel sector generated $270 billion of direct travel spending in 2019, supporting 4 million jobs in America.

While progress was made during the Covid-19 vaccine rollsouts in spring and summer 2018, Sacks stated that recent weeks have seen a decline in business travel intent. Based on Global Business Travel Association surveys, about 65 precent of U.S. companies are conducting domestic business travel. In July, 68% of the remaining respondents said that they planned to return to travel in one or three months. But, by August, the percentage had dropped to just 35% as Covid-19 claims began rising again and the Delta variant became more widespread.

These remarks are part of U.S. Travel Association’s pitch to resume business travel, meetings, and events. It was designed to show that these activities can and have been safely resumed and to help in the recovery of America’s economy. 

Roger Dow, U.S. Travel CEO and president of U.S. Travel said that resuming business travel and meetings would “greatly accelerate America’s economy recovery” and help businesses move forward in a more profitable manner. He also criticised what he described as a media attention on cancellations when in-person meetings are now taking place. The scientific and academic communities have shown that the organizing of professional events and traveling workers can be able to reconnect with their clients.

Dow cited research from Mayo Clinic that showed the risk of a person becoming infected with Covid-19 boarding a flight from the U.S. to the U.K. in which passengers were tested for Covid-19 beforehand is one out of 10,000. The study found that one in every 1,000,000 passengers was at risk from being infected by the virus while on Covid-tested flights between the U.K. and the U.S. 

Dow stated that the “lockdowns” and other restrictions were no longer protecting passengers from the illness. “Vaccines are. All who are eligible for the vaccine should be encouraged. We support them 100%. This is the fastest way to normalcy.

U.S. travel earlier this week stated that they do not recommend mandatory vaccinations for domestic travelers. Dow claimed that these mandates would be difficult to establish and cited the challenges faced in obtaining U.S. Real ID for the past 11 years. He said that while you can get upwards to 65 percent of people vaccinated, there are 35 to 40 percent who may not be eligible for vaccination. However they will take a Covid test to prove that they have Covid-free when they enter the building.

Dow stated that international travel is acceptable if people are allowed to enter the country for a vaccination. Meetings and Conventions has adopted the protocol, so we can know who is in the doors, their status, and if they don’t return these meetings, then it’s not just hotels or convention centers that are affected. It’s also adult education and best practices for selling American products. These things are crucial to our economies and communities.



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