Business travel is resuming around the world after a long suspension of business travel caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
After months of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, people are eager to connect with colleagues or meet new ones.
As COVID-19 case rates fall and vaccinations rise, borders are reopening to travel and key trends are emerging that will shape corporate travel now and into the post-pandemic world.
One critical key to business travel will be health passports, which are also called vaccine passports or vaccine visas. In the summer of 2021, the European Union adopted a COVID Certificate, which is a new type of health passport honored across all 27 member countries. The COVID Certificate permits EU citizens to travel freely amongst all states within the EU if they are fully vaccinated, test negative for COVID-19 or can prove full recovery from the virus. The EU began using the COVID Certificate on July 1, 2021.
A Resurgence of Travel Markets
According to a 2021 study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), business travel is recovering from downturns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although growth in business travel was lower than expected in 2021, spending on business travel is expected to return to normal across the globe by the end of 2024.
The U.S. saw an increase of 27% in business travel in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to the GBTA study. There was also a 15-20% increase in business travel in Latin America, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific. In 2022, business travel is expected to increase 38% from 2021.
Digital Nomads and Remote Work
From Europe to the Caribbean, more countries have jumped on the remote work visa bandwagon over the past year. Provided they meet general requirements, employees can work remotely from a growing list of countries, including Australia, Germany and Mexico, among others. Over a dozen countries currently offer some type of remote work visa, and more may adopt the same measures in the future.
Technology has played an increasingly important role in allowing businesses to operate remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s likely to revolutionize corporate travel. Technological changes and advancements at borders around the world are also increasing mobility for business travelers.
Many countries have adopted online application processing systems during the pandemic, and the emergence of digital biometrics technology is reducing wait times for business travelers at airports. Additionally, many travel-related transactions and arrangements can now be conducted using phones and computers.
A new type of travel is emerging called “bleisure” travel. As the name implies, “bleisure” is a combination of business and leisure travel. After being cooped up in their home offices for months on end, employees are just as eager to return to leisure and personal travel.
As such, many companies are permitting their employees to stay for longer periods of time (the average is two to three months) to enjoy a leisure component to their business travel itinerary.
According to BBC, more than one in three business travelers will include leisure as part of at least one business trip this year.
Borders: Open or Closed?
As life returns to some semblance of normalcy, many people are wondering where they can go, and alternatively, where restrictions are still in place. Restrictions are changing frequently, and HR managers and their employees should check the State Department’s COVID-19 Country Specific Information page for the latest updates regarding border restrictions and permissions around the world.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Brendan Coggan, who is the SVP of Global Services at Envoy Global.
Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.