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The Global Business Travel Association in a report issued on
Tuesday downgraded its U.S. business travel forecast, citing an expectation for
"economic turmoil in Europe, slower growth in China and domestic
unemployment to continue to weigh on growth over the next six quarters."
The association now projects total 2013 U.S.-initiated business trip volume to
drop 1.1 percent, larger than the 0.7 percent decline it forecast in July. GBTA
last month also cut business travel spending forecasts for major European markets.
However, owing to "higher price levels," the
association's latest report predicted that spending on all U.S.-initiated
business travel in 2012 would rise 2.6 percent year over year to $257 billion,
followed next year by an additional 4.9 percent increase.
Within the U.S. domestic market, GBTA now projects that
business person-trips will slip 1.6 percent this year and another 1.2 percent
next year. Transient travel volume is expected to fall back 1.7 percent in 2012
and 1.2 percent in 2013, while group travel volume is forecast to retreat 1.4
percent this year and 1 percent next year.
"Beginning in early 2010, when employment reversed
direction and began to expand again, travel-prone jobs have not kept
pace," according to the association's report. "New retail, restaurant
and manufacturing workers tend to travel much less than their business service,
financial or utility industry counterparts. Said differently, business travel
is not getting the bounce from employment growth in this recovery that was typical
of past expansions." That, GBTA concluded, is "another sign that the
business travel recovery will continue to lag the broader economy."
GBTA's latest projections also include a marginal decline in
2012 U.S.-initiated international outbound person-trips followed in 2013 by 3.6
percent year-over-year growth. International outbound spending now is expected
to increase 2.5 percent this year and another 5.5 percent next year. "As a
base of comparison, less than a year ago, we expected growth of 5.5 percent and
11 percent in international outbound spend in 2012 and 2013,
respectively," the association wrote. "The projected pace of growth
continues to get hammered as economic worries in Europe persist and growth in
the developing world continues to slow."
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