Global business travel hits a rough patch, as Corona fears surge

Travel Planners CEO feels domestic tourism may receive a boost

Anish Kumar

The global travel industry is all set to get hit by $46 billion a month due to the outbreak of the corona virus, according to the Global Business Travel Association, a Washington based trade body. While that figure may eventually turn out to be bit of a stretch, there is no denying that American and European companies have curtailed their business travel to a great extent. GTA carried out a survey on 401 companies, with 65% admitting that they have cancelled meeting or events, keeping in mind the spread of the disease.

Nestle, the world’s largest food company, which has nearly 300,000 employees on its rolls, has asked its employees not to travel internationally for business until the middle of March. The company has decided to use alternative means of communications during this period. Unilever and L’Oreal too have taken precautions, by slashing business travel.

Anish Kumar PK, CEO of The Travel Planners, said that there has been a sharp drop in travel across the Pacific, not just to and from China, considered the epicentre of the outbreak, but also to other Asian countries , Australia and US. The disease has now spread to West Asia and Europe too. “It is that 30,000 flight services have come to a halt and many airlines are reducing the flight services to virus infected countries . Cruise ships are also facing a crisis, after many people got affected by the virus,” he said.

Many important trade shows and conferences, the back bone of international tourism, have been impacted. Cancelled conferences include the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the leading show for the mobile phone industry, the Geneva Motor Show, Facebook’s F8 Congress and ironically enough, the ITB Berlin, the leading trade show for the travel industry itself. It was expected to draw 140,000 participants starting Wednesday but it got cancelled. “Hotels, airlines, tour operators, transport operators, cruises , restaurants etc are badly hit and it will trouble the jobs and the world economy itself,” said Anish Kumar.

Those who have done their travel bookings earlier are travelling, but there are less fresh bookings. “As far as India is concerned the out bound travelers may travel within the country as most of the favourite outbound destinations of Indian travelers are locked or corona virus affected. This will boost the domestic tourism in India,” he said.

It may take few months to contain the spread of the virus and travel professionals are closely watching the developments to workout strategies to promote destinations once the situations come back to normal, Anish Kumar added.