Despite global economic uncertainty, business travel in the United States will grow at "stable and steady" rates over the next two years, according to the latest forecast from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
"The U.S. business travel market is an island of stability in a sea of global volatility," said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. "Over the next two years, U.S. business travel spending will grow at just above 3 percent, but this is largely driven by price, not transaction level increases. In this environment of modest transaction growth, low inflation levels, and global uncertainty we can expect continued consolidation in the business travel industry."
According to the GBTA Foundation, the U.S. economy is as strong as it was prior to the Great Recession, but lacks the same speculative dangers that existed in 2007 and 2008. Because of this, it said, U.S. business travel will grow an estimated 3.2 percent in 2016 and 3.5 percent in 2017, reaching $299.9 billion and $310.4 billion, respectively.
Growth would be higher if not for two tempering factors: Business travel price growth, which will be 2.6 percent and 3.0 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and continuing economic instability in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.
In terms of group travel, the GBTA Foundation's forecast is mixed. "Group business travel slightly outperformed individual travel activity in 2015. Average spending on group business travel, however, declined slightly from $700 in 2014 to $694 per group business trip in 2015," the foundation reported. "Volume growth will pick up the pace over the next two years, growing in the 3 percent range, but spending growth will remain restrained for group business travel through 2016 before loosening up in 2017."
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