Business travel defies downturn in UK economy

Business travel defies downturn in UK economy

Guild of Travel Management Company (GTMC) figures suggest the corporate travel market has defied the UK’s return to recession in the first quarter of the year.

The GTMC reports “strong but unspectacular” figures, with a 6% rise in transactions in January to March compared with a year ago, the strongest growth for 12 months. GTMC members account for about 80% of UK corporate travel bookings.

The continuing growth is significant given official figures show the UK economy in recession over the past six months, with GDP falling 1% in the first quarter of this year.

The corporate travel market normally closely mirrors the economic cycle.

The one slowdown is in air travel transactions which were largely flat, rising just 1% in the first three months compared with a year ago, in line with BSP (billing and settlement plan) figures. However, average transaction values were up.

Air travel over the past 12 months remained 3% up on the previous period. Rail transactions increased 14% in the first quarter to almost 1.6 million, making rail the second- busiest sector for TMCs by number of transactions.

Hotel transactions rose 3% year on year to 1.2 million. Car hire and ancillary transactions – consultancy services, visas, currency exchange and so on – numbered far fewer but both showed 10% growth. It was the fifth quarter of double-digit growth in car hire.

GTMC chief executive Anne Godfrey said: “These first-quarter figures are solid if unspectacular. However, they contrast with trends in leisure travel and recent GDP data.”


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