Industry Report: City breaks can help hotels and airlines make up for the shortfall in business travellers

Industry Report: City breaks can help hotels and airlines make up for the shortfall in business travellers

Almost a third of Brits who are planning an overseas holiday 2022 want to book a city break, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry.

The WTM Industry Report, a poll of 1,000 consumers, found that 648 were planning to take an overseas holiday in 2022 – and cities were the second most popular choice, after the most favoured option of the beach.

The finding that 30% want to take a city break next year will come as a boost to hoteliers and airlines across Europe, who have been badly hit by the drastic downturn in business travel and events amid the pandemic.

The Business Travel Association estimates that, in a normal year, £220 billion is added to UK GDP, thanks to business travel trips originating in the UK.

The association said there were nearly nine million business trips originating from the UK in 2019, resulting in about 50 million overnight stays – with more than half being for less than three nights.

Also, business travellers account for 15-20% of airline customers and, on certain routes, they are twice as profitable as leisure travellers.

However, travel management companies have seen a collapse in revenue during the pandemic of up to 90%.

According to Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, city destinations have been especially adversely affected by the pandemic, in part because of the downturn in business travel and events.

Furthermore, the forecasters say business travel’s recovery will lag behind the leisure bounce-back.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times reported how tourist boards and hoteliers in Europe are investing more in the luxury market in a bid to move away from their dependency on the sun-sand-and-sea model – a trend which will also help cushion city centres from the drop in business travel customers.

Traditional beach holidays will remain in demand – as findings from the WTM London report show – but city breaks offer a chance for hotel chains to tap into the post-pandemic demand from consumers to indulge in more luxurious escapes and spend their savings on a second or third holiday during 2022.

And the trend could prove to be a longer-term shift too, as Bloomberg research suggests that most large companies plan to spend less on travel post-pandemic – online communication tools, cost savings and sustainability targets all mean that hotels and airlines may have to rely on fewer corporate travellers in the future than they did before Covid-19.

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, takes place over the next three days (Monday 1 – 3 November) at ExCeL – London.

Simon Press, WTM London Exhibition Director, said: “The relaxation of travel curbs in October have offered encouragement to all potential travellers across the UK – but, as business travel looks set to remain subdued in 2022, the leisure market will be crucial to help compensate for the shortfall.

“Our research showing that a third of those planning an overseas trip in 2022 want to book a city break will be welcomed by tourist boards, hotel chains and the aviation sector – holidaymakers are keen to make up for lost time, and many have saved enough money to book two or more getaways in the year.

“And a lot of them are happy to upgrade for a more luxurious, memorable experience – which will provide opportunities for those in the hospitality sector to be innovative with their marketing and rebuild with fresh sources of revenue.”



World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. In 2020, WTM Virtual facilitated 20,000+ meetings and held 42 live content sessions over the 3-days show.

Next live event: Monday 1 to 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next WTM Virtual: Monday 8 to 9 November 2021 – Virtual

Travel Forward London is the leading travel technology event, co-located with WTM London. Travel Forward is renowned for showcasing the next-generation technologies for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Over 19,000 travel officials and 150+ innovative solution providers attend for 3 days of cutting-edge insights, open debate and unrivalled networking opportunities. The combination of a 2-day conference, interactive exhibition and start-up showcase makes Travel Forward truly unique.

Next live event: Monday 1 November to Wednesday 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next Travel Forward Virtual: Monday 8 November to Tuesday 9 November 2021 – Virtual

London Travel Week, brought to you by WTM London, is the one-stop-shop for event hosts and visitors to be able to shape the next 12 months of travel together. The festival of events supports the global travel and tourism industry through capturing invaluable news and enhancing industry connections.

Next event: Friday 29 October – Friday 5 November 2021

WTM Virtualis the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform.

WTM Latin America takes place annually in São Paulo and attracts around 19,000 tourism professionals during a three-day event. The show offers qualified content, as well as networking and business opportunities. In its ninth edition – the first 100% virtual – WTM Latin America followed its focus on effective business generation and reached the milestone of 4,200 meetings held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors.

Next event: Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April 2022 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 April 2022 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with visitors from more than 140 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next in-person event: Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, Arival Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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