While the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is now rapidly spreading across most of Europe, the government has decided to ease travel restrictions for people entering the UK.
6 in 10 (58%) medium & large businesses taking part in our recent UK business tracker agreed that the change in travel restrictions introduced in early December would negatively impact their business.
Since 4am Friday 7 January, travellers returning from abroad no longer have to take a pre-departure PCR test, but are able to take a cheaper lateral flow test when re-entering the UK. Additionally, double vaccinated arrivals into the UK no longer have to quarantine until they receive a negative PCR result.
This is good news, especially for larger UK businesses. 6 in 10 (58%) medium & large businesses taking part in our recent UK business tracker agreed that the change in travel restrictions introduced in early December would negatively impact their business. This ease in regulations could be seen as a welcoming step towards more frictionless air travel. This is especially important for businesses with international operations, of whom over half (54%) were concerned that the tougher restrictions would negatively impact their business.
These concerns are likely linked to the prolonged reduction of face-to-face interactions, and the lack of conferences and trade fairs, with business leaders realising the value that they bring.
This might be surprising to those who thought that corporate travel is a thing of the past – especially given that many industries are now offering hybrid events and collaborations have moved online. Businesses are also becoming increasingly aware of the negative impact of air travel on the environment. However, a recent report by Deloitte analysing the impacts of the pandemic on corporate travel has shown that growth and competition need the return of corporate business travel – to some extent. The report suggests that those industries that rely on positive client relationships for their success are most dependent on these face-to-face interactions.
These findings are reflected in our tracker, with sales (62%) and the IT & technology sector (58%) being most concerned about tougher travel restrictions, as they want to reconnect with their customers in person, because relationships are a crucial part of the business relationship. The reduction of corporate travel is clearly impacting different businesses in different ways. Interestingly, businesses within the public sector, retail and wholesale, arts and entertainment are least concerned about tougher travel restrictions, where new innovations and adaptions in business practices suffice.
It will be interesting to see how businesses will find new innovative ways to further adopt to doing business in the ‘New Normal’.