SMEs to drive domestic business travel recovery

business travel
Waiting for the flight

As one of the industries most adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry is hoping to quickly recover. And the SME community is being seen as a key factor in realising this recovery.

According to the data gathered by Corporate Traveller Australia, the five industries providing the most traffic on domestic routes are the medical, mining, construction, engineering, and manufacturing sectors, and routes between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are expected to see the largest recovery as the states re-open.

Sectors such as mining and healthcare have continued to perform strongly throughout the pandemic because of the essential nature of travel for these industries, especially within and between states. Meanwhile, industries such as service, manufacturing, IT, Government and financial and insurance are currently the most subdued in terms of business travel, but it is anticipated that they will bounce back quickly once restrictions ease.

Travel by the medical industry made up 11 per cent of all business travel earlier this year, while mining accounted for 10 per cent. The construction industry accounted for nine per cent of business travel among Australian SMEs, and engineering was responsible for six per cent. The manufacturing industry made up six per cent of business travel before this year’s lockdowns.

“Not only are Australia’s SMEs vital to the health of the economy, but it would be wise to look to our SME sector for signs of recovery in most markets – including domestic business travel,” Corporate Traveller Australia General Manager, Tom Walley, said.

“The travel period between 1 February (after holidays) and 20 June (before Sydney’s lockdown) was as near-normal as Australia had ever been since the start of the pandemic,” Walley added. “It is why Corporate Traveller looked to this travel booking period to make a post-lockdown forecast. Our data is reflective of the overall SME travel market, based on our large numbers.”

Walley said that he expected essential industries to also drive the return to domestic travel, with governments continuing to drive job growth through building and infrastructure investments, and policy. He expects flights resuming between Sydney and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and Melbourne and Brisbane to make up the largest overall return – a combined 19 per cent – to domestic business travel.

“We expect flights between Sydney and Melbourne to see fastest and largest return to travel,” Walley said. “Earlier this year, this route made up nine per cent of our SME travel. Flights between Sydney and Brisbane will also come back strongly, with this route making up six per cent of business travel previously, while flights between Melbourne and Brisbane made up four per cent of all business travel.”