March 1, 2024

Road to recovery

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, explains why he is feeling more upbeat about the return of business travel

For the first time since the beginning of 2020, there’s a spring in my step. We have the beginnings of a roadmap out of quarantine hotels, fluctuating travel corridors and total travel bans.

The Prime Minister has not waved a magic wand for a miraculous recovery for the travel industry, but he has given both the business and leisure markets hope.

The new iteration of the Global Travel Task Force is working with leading industry bodies to put detail on the roadmap out of the current quagmire. This plan needs to take a long-term approach as we learn to live and travel alongside Covid-19. International standards on pre-departure testing and vaccine certification are the only way to ensure Britain can be a truly global trading nation once again.

It is into this more hopeful environment that the BTA has launched its vision for business travel in 2021 and beyond in partnership with Amadeus. It is up to us as an industry to nurture travel confidence and get companies who urgently need to travel for work moving once again.

It is clear that corporates are going to prioritise their duty of care and a more mindful return to travel. Travel Management Companies are going to be more vital than ever in meeting these demands and working to provide Covid-secure programmes.

However, we recognise that it is going to be a gradual return to travel. The Chancellor’s announcement of an extension to the furlough scheme will keep skilled people in our industry. However, a looming talent gap is a huge threat to our survival and only further targeted support rather than exclusion from the loans offered to the hospitality and retail sectors will save our sector from another avoidable cliff-edge.

Alongside vaccinations, an economic shot in the arm is needed to prepare British business for the opening of borders and life travelling in the new normal.