Inbound business travelThe effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were evident in the UK business travel segment. For instance, the number of inbound international business visits in 2021 was only at roughly 14 percent of number in 2019. Consequently, the expenditure of business visitors in the country plunged from approximately six billion to less than one billion British pounds in the same period. London – frequently described as the financial capital of Europe – accounted for 16 percent of all business trips to the UK in 2021. In that same year, most of the inbound business tourism to the UK originated in other European countries. The United States was the only non-European country among the top ten.
British business travelers and their opinionsThe UK outbound business travel also experienced a harsh decline between 2019 and 2021, going from roughly 9 million to less than 1.5 million, which shows the severity of the COVID-19 impact. In the previous decade, the number of UK business travelers to other countries had remained fairly stable. In 2021, France was by a wide margin the most common destination for UK residents traveling for business or professional purposes, reaching a total of approximately 215 thousand trips. And again, the United States was also the only non-European country in the top ten destinations' ranking.
But the assessment of the COVID-19 impact can also be seen in the experience of travelers. Approximately one in four British respondents considered that not being able to travel for business put them at a competitive disadvantage, while only one in ten assessed it as such in 2020. And according to a different study, the perception that business travel is important for their own company’s growth was very widespread among corporate traveler decision makers and travelers themselves in 2021.