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Can city breaks compensate for the shortfall in business travelers?

Can city breaks compensate for the shortfall in business travelers?
Can city breaks compensate for the shortfall in business travelers?
Written by Harry Johnson

The research showing that a third of those planning an overseas trip in 2022 want to book a city break will be welcomed by tourist boards, hotel chains and the aviation sector – holidaymakers are keen to make up for lost time, and many have saved enough money to book two or more getaways in the year.

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Almost a third of Brits who are planning an overseas holiday 2022 want to book a city break, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry.

The WTM Industry Report, a poll of 1,000 consumers, found that 648 were planning to take an overseas holiday in 2022 – and cities were the second most popular choice, after the most favored option of the beach.

The finding that 30% want to take a city break next year will come as a boost to hoteliers and airlines across Europe, who have been badly hit by the drastic downturn in business travel and events amid the pandemic.

The Business Travel Association estimates that, in a normal year, £220 billion is added to UK GDP, thanks to business travel trips originating in the UK.

The association said there were nearly nine million business trips originating from the UK in 2019, resulting in about 50 million overnight stays – with more than half being for less than three nights.

Also, business travelers account for 15-20% of airline customers and, on certain routes, they are twice as profitable as leisure travelers.

However, travel management companies have seen a collapse in revenue during the pandemic of up to 90%.

According to Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, city destinations have been especially adversely affected by the pandemic, in part because of the downturn in business travel and events.

Furthermore, the forecasters say business travel’s recovery will lag behind the leisure bounce-back.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times reported how tourist boards and hoteliers in Europe are investing more in the luxury market in a bid to move away from their dependency on the sun-sand-and-sea model – a trend which will also help cushion city centers from the drop in business travel customers.

Traditional beach holidays will remain in demand – as findings from the WTM London report show – but city breaks offer a chance for hotel chains to tap into the post-pandemic demand from consumers to indulge in more luxurious escapes and spend their savings on a second or third holiday during 2022.

And the trend could prove to be a longer-term shift too, as Bloomberg research suggests that most large companies plan to spend less on travel post-pandemic – online communication tools, cost savings and sustainability targets all mean that hotels and airlines may have to rely on fewer corporate travelers in the future than they did before Covid-19.

Simon Press, WTM London Exhibition Director, said: “The relaxation of travel curbs in October have offered encouragement to all potential travelers across the UK – but, as business travel looks set to remain subdued in 2022, the leisure market will be crucial to help compensate for the shortfall.

“Our research showing that a third of those planning an overseas trip in 2022 want to book a city break will be welcomed by tourist boards, hotel chains and the aviation sector – holidaymakers are keen to make up for lost time, and many have saved enough money to book two or more getaways in the year.

“And a lot of them are happy to upgrade for a more luxurious, memorable experience – which will provide opportunities for those in the hospitality sector to be innovative with their marketing and rebuild with fresh sources of revenue.”

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for almost 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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