Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Business travel is returning to healthier volumes following the industry slump of 2008-09, as Australia’s corporate sector relaxes freezes on staff travel. “During the downturn, Australian corporates typically reduced their spend on travel by between 15 percent to 30 percent,” executive general manager for Flight Centre Limited’s corporate division, Shannon O’Brien said. “Now we’re seeing spending levels return to normal as companies in certain industries loosen the purse strings and ramp up their travel activity.” Flight Centre’s corporate division had seen a double-digit increase in the past financial year for both hotel bookings and airfares, said Mr O’Brien.The business travel sector has been one of the slower markets to recover from the GFC, and is only now starting to remove the travel freezes placed during the downturn. “The economic slowdown had some corporates enforcing travel freezes on their staff while others changed their policies to allow ‘essential travel’ only,” Mr O’Brien said. “Now we’re seeing travel freezes lifted, resulting in a higher volume of travellers, taking trips more frequently and further afield. “Business travellers are attending more conferences, internal meetings and the duration of their travel is also starting to increase. We’re also seeing more overnight and interstate stays and an increase in international travel to key corporate hubs in Asia Pacific, the United Kingdom and the United States.” The corporate sector is also witnessing a shift to budget airlines from small- to medium-sized businesses, with staff being asked to purchase tickets as early as possible. Companies are also pushing for their staff to utilise public transport, rather than taxis, on their way to and from airports during work hours. Increasingly, travel data reporting is being utilised to ensure staff are complying with company travel policies.