Business Travel To Grow, But Slowly, U.S. Travel Association Forecasts - Business Travel News

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Business Travel To Grow, But Slowly, U.S. Travel Association Forecasts

November 02, 2012 - 02:15 PM ET

By Mary Ann McNulty

Business travel in the United States in 2013 is projected to grow to 464.5 million person-trips, about 4.3 million more than the 2012 level and 3.4 million more than 2008's 461.1 million, according to a U.S. Travel Association forecast released Thursday. The association expects the pace of business travel growth as measured in person-trips in 2013 to slow to 0.9 percent year over year, compared with 1.3 percent in 2012, but rebound to 1.2 percent in 2014 and 1.1 percent each in 2015 and 2016. USTA projects 480 million business person-trips by 2016, still 86.5 million fewer than 2000's level of 566.6 million.

The association indicated that about 37 percent of business travel is via air, 46 percent by automobile and 17 percent by train or other modes, according to its last study in 2010. Person-trips, according to U.S. Travel, are journeys of at least 50 miles one-way from home and include at least one night away from home.

"Businesses continue to have a heightened focus on the value and bottom-line benefits of travel," said U.S. Travel senior vice president of research and economics David Huether. "The slight increase in business travel next year continues to reflect demand for face-to-face meetings that drive growth and productivity."

The association forecast overall domestic travel in 2012 to rise to 2.04 billion person-trips, "an all-time high, 1.5 percent above the prior peak set in 2007," and by 2013 rise to 2.06 billion person trips, Huether added. While that growth rate in 2013 will slow to 1.1 percent year over year, down from 1.8 percent in 2012 and 2011 and 3.3 percent in 2010, Huether said, the industry would continue to enjoy consecutive years of growth that started in 2010 for the first time in several years.

Growth in domestic travel combined with a 4 percent rise in international inbound travel in 2013 is expected to "enable the industry to add 98,800 American jobs by the end of 2013," for a total of 7.8 million jobs, Huether said. "Since the very end of 2009, the travel industry has added 283,000 jobs."

International travelers "now account for 15.1 percent of total travel spending in the United States, up from 14.3 percent in 2011," Huether said. "When countries are admitted to the Visa Waiver Program, the growth rates typically double for a few years." Taiwan on Nov. 1 became the most recent country to be added to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, allowing its travelers to remain in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.

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