Coronavirus will cost business travel sector $1.14 trillion in revenue: Industry group

Business travel to Asia has been the worst hit.
Business travel to Asia has been the worst hit.PHOTO: AFP

BENGALURU (REUTERS) - The global business travel sector is expected to take a revenue hit of about US$820 billion (S$1.14 trillion), with China accounting for nearly half of the losses, as corporates curb travel plans in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, an industry body said on Tuesday (March 10).

Business travel to Asia has been the worst hit, with at least three out of every four companies reporting that they have cancelled or suspended all or most business trips to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific countries, according to a survey by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

The industry group's latest estimate is sharply above its February forecast of a US$560 billion hit.

The fast-spreading virus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in China, while disrupting businesses globally.

"Coronavirus is significantly impacting the business travel industry's bottom line," GBTA chief operating officer Scott Solombrino said in a statement.

"The impact to the business travel industry - and to the broader economy - cannot be underestimated."

China, which has seen a 95 per cent drop in business travel since the outbreak, is expected to lose US$404.1 billion in revenue from corporate travel, followed by US$190.5 billion in loss for Europe.

Airline and hotel industries, which typically are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate spending, have taken a major hit to their revenue as the virus continues to spread, the industry group said.