A survey of global travel managers has found there is widespread concern over the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, which could be impacting business travel.

According to the GBTA, nine in ten travel managers reported having employees who travel to China and other international destinations on business trips, with the same number personally concerned about the coronavirus spreading around the world.

Business travellers are also worried, with 27 travel managers saying their employees have expressed ‘a lot’ (27 per cent) or ‘some’ (42 per cent) concern over growing international cases of the virus.

Travellers’ fears go beyond the virus itself; half of travel managers said their employees are either ‘somewhat’ (37 per cent) or ‘very’ (13 per cent) concerned about heightened health screenings at airports.

Executives and senior leaders are even expressing some unease about the situation, with eight in ten travel managers reporting their company’s leadership team is worried about the impact of the coronavirus on business travel and employee safety.

As a result of the heightened concern surrounding the virus, 80 per cent of travel managers said they believe it is likely their travellers will change their plans to avoid flying and business trips. Almost half said this was ‘very likely’. Only 1 per cent said it is ‘not at all likely’ that travellers will change their plans.

Topping the list of travel managers’ worries in relation to the coronavirus is traveller health and safety (90 per cent), their employees’ own concerns about their personal safety (48 per cent) and travel disruption due to airport closures, airline cancellations and/or delays (40 per cent).

Many major global airlines have suspended flights to and from mainland China, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, American Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Qatar Airways and Emirates, among others.

In the US, president Donald Trump announced that foreign nationals travelling from China will be denied entry to the country and has urged citizens not to travel to the country’s mainland.

In the UK, citizens returning from Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began, were placed in mandatory quarantine for 14 days. The government has also urged citizens still in the country to leave if they can in order to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus, while Brits have been advised not to travel to China.

As of 4 February, there were more than 20,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, the vast majority of them in China, and at least 427 people had died. There are currently only two confirmed cases in the UK.

Subscribe to the BBT Newsletter

Join the Buying Business Travel newsletter for the latest business travel news.

Thank you for signing up!