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GBTA Predicts European Business Markets to Fully Recover in 2026


Despite earlier declines, Europe remains the third largest business travel region globally with 20% of global spend in 2022.

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The business travel industry in Europe continues its progress toward full recovery to its pre-pandemic spending levels of $392 billion, but recovery in business travel continues across the region. Europe’s business travel spend now accounts for approximately 20% of global spend compared to 27% in 2019, according to the recent Business Travel Index Outlook from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Emerging Europe and Western Europe were the only regions globally to experience spending declines in 2021, as COVID-19 impacted domestic and regional business travel markets. However, Western Europe is expected to experience one the sharpest recoveries by 2026, according to the GBTA.

“In 2021, Western European business travel spend continued to be hit by the pandemic more than any other region in the world,” said Catherine Logan, GBTA’s regional vice president, EMEA and APAC. “As restrictions eased and borders re-opened, a significant pent-up demand led to a surge in business travel spend across the region. Europe regained ground in 2022 and is now forecast to become the fastest growing business travel market in 2023.”

“Europe’s business travel spend is expected to grow by 25.3% in 2023,” she added. “Despite this healthy start to the year, there is caution as uncertainty continues due to rising inflation and economic crisis, all threatening to derail progress as we move further into 2023.”

According to the GBTA Outlook, the recovery in both Western and Emerging Europe lagged relative to North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East. In 2020, Europe’s business travel spending declined 58.1%, the second largest percentage drop of any global region. In 2021, most of the world saw a modest recovery; however, Europe was the only region that saw business travel spend continue to fall, declining an additional 15.4% to $139 billion.

Despite earlier declines, Europe remains the third largest business travel region globally with 20% of global spend in 2022. Western Europe accounts for 86% of Europe’s business travel spend, while Emerging Europe accounts for the remaining 14%.

Last year, six countries — Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands — accounted for 65.1% of business travel expenditures in the region.

According to GBTA, here are some statistics about the recovery in Europe:

  • In 2022, Europe was forecasted to be the fastest growing business travel market with spend growing at 61.7%. Europe’s business travel spend is expected to grow another 25.3% in 2023.
  • Western European business travel spending climbed 23% in 2022, recovering to $194 billion (or 58% of pre-pandemic spending levels) whereas Emerging Europe business travel spend recovered 53% to $30.8 billion.
  • The two largest markets European markets (Germany and the U.K.) have recovered less (in percentage terms) than the broader region. France, Spain, and three of the four Nordic markets (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) have recovered more than the broader region.
  • Two Emerging Europe markets are showing particularly strong forecasts: Turkey has returned to 87.1% and Poland to 72.1% of its pre-pandemic spend.
  • Between 2021-2026, CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in business travel expenditure is expected to be 23.4% in Western Europe and 10.9% in Emerging Europe. U.K., Finland, and Ireland are forecasted to make the biggest percentage gains.