The waning of the U.S. spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19 appears to have spurred greater willingness to travel for business, according to a new survey of travel buyers, released Monday.
The share of member travel managers and procurement professionals surveyed Feb. 7-14 by the Global Business Travel Association who indicated their travelers were "willing" or "very willing" to travel for business was 82 percent, up from 64 percent in January. The new figure is the highest recorded in the GBTA surveys, which have been conducted roughly monthly during the pandemic.
"We are entering into the next phase of global business travel–one of thoughtful recovery–and our recent research reflects that shift," GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang said in a statement. "The business travel industry is more optimistic about the path to recovery. The signs are there."
Several travel management company executives last month told BTN that their corporate clients were treating omicron differently than they did the delta variant that emerged last summer.
RELATED: Optimism Increases for Limited Omicron Corp. Travel Effect
GBTA surveyed the 254 buyer respondents at a time when new omicron cases and hospitalizations has started to decline from mid-January peaks, figures that since have continued to drop. Several states since have announced the lifting of mask mandates, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Feb. 25 suggested most vaccinated Americans needn't wear a mask indoors, based on a new formula that considers Covid spread, hospital capacity and hospitalizations.
Federal mask requirements remain, however, on air travel.
GBTA also surveyed 150 member travel suppliers, 45 percent of whom indicated future business travel bookings had increased from the month prior, compared with 21 percent who said so in the January poll. About 35 percent in February said business travel bookings had declined from the prior month, versus 60 percent in January.
RELATED: January 2022 GBTA Covid-19 survey