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Why Zoom Can’t Save the World

Business travel, which used to represent $1.5 trillion a year – about 1.7% of world GDP – has slowed to a trickle. But the economic impact will extend far beyond lost jobs at airlines and in the hospitality industry, because it will also lead to a substantial decline in the transfer of knowledge.

CAMBRIDGE – Before COVID-19, spending on business travel totaled $1.5 trillion a year (about 1.7% of world GDP). Now it is down to a trickle, as countries have closed their borders and social distancing has taken hold. Planes have been grounded, hotels are closed, and executives are not earning frequent flier miles. Many travel and hospitality jobs are feeling the consequences. But if this were all there was to it, the impact, however large, would probably be much smaller than the decline in general international tourism and easily reversible, once the pandemic is over.