Omicron put brakes on global domestic travel recovery in early 2022

domestic travel

Domestic travel has returned to 80 per cent of 2019 levels according to the latest Events Industry Council (EIC) research.

The 2022 Q1 Global Business Events Barometer monitors the changes within the market relative to pre-pandemic (2019) levels and explores two key areas, hotel group room nights and request for proposal (RFP) activity.

According to the Barometer, 80 per cent of global companies surveyed resumed domestic travel in 2022 Q1 (up 16% from 2021 Q4), and more than half (55%) had resumed international travel (up 77% from the previous quarter) following the easing of Covid travel restrictions across the world.

However, recovery across the business events sector eased in 2022 Q1, in part due to the impact of the Omicron variant in key markets. The slight step back in the recovery was indicated by both RFPs (down 2% from 2021 Q4) and hotel group room nights (down 10% from previous quarter).

There were some modest recoveries in group activity through the start of 2022, occurring in the Middle East, North America and Asia Pacific regions, as indicated by the hotel group room nights index.

The Barometer also revealed a slight decrease (down 3% from the previous quarter) in events booked with shorter lead times (within 12 months). RFP activity for events in future periods increased slightly (up 2% from the previous quarter) but was still significantly lower than 2019 levels.

“Global business events face a longer recovery trajectory than other travel segments, but in-person events remain indispensable to business competitiveness, and we expect continued recovery as global travel resumes,” said Adam Sacks, managing director of Oxford Economics.

Events Industry Council CEO Amy Calvert said this year hasn’t been without its challenges.

“With the reality of variants and adjusting to living in an endemic state as well as the Russia-Ukraine war and unstable geopolitical and economic realities impacting our performance and our people,” she said.

“While there has been an ease in recovery for the global business events sector it is important to reflect on the progress that we have made so far and to recognise and celebrate the efforts that have been made to adapt and innovate to offer experiences that drive impact.

“We will face the inevitable ebb and flow caused by these realties, however, I am confident that we will continue to demonstrate resilience and collaborate in an effort to share best practice and insights as we navigate our continued recovery.”