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Government Shutdown Could Derail Business Travel Spending

Government Shutdown Could Derail Business Travel Spending

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Business travel spending is expected to see a robust year in 2014 fueled by steady corporate profits, increases in business investment, and an improving U.S. economy. However, the ongoing government shutdown and potential default could derail progress and is already impacting business travel sentiment.

The final Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) BTI Outlook–United States of the year, sponsored by Visa, forecasts that total U.S. business travel spending should grow by 7.2 percent in 2014, reaching $288.8 billion. Reversing a 2013 decline in trip volume, total trips taken should grow by 1.6 percent to 459.2 million. But a GBTA survey of more than 250 business travel professionals released on Oct. 11 finds that two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) are concerned that their business will be negatively impacted by a shutdown longer than one week. A potential U.S. government default is a serious concern for 59 percent of respondents.

“The business travel industry is a key driver of the U.S. economy, and business travel is looking at a strong rebound year in 2014. The current government shutdown and potential default couldn’t have come at a worse time. Just as we’re finally turning a corner, all of these gains are being put at risk,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “We strongly urge Congress to recognize the damage caused by these unnecessary disruptions to U.S. business travel and keep our country open for business.”

To date, 40 percent of respondents say the shutdown has already impacted them, their company, and/or their company’s employees. Of those who reported feeling an effect, the top three impacts were: Cancelled meeting or business opportunities in the United States (57 percent); Increased uncertainty about the economy (57 percent); and cancelled bookings (50 percent).

For now, the outlook for business travel remains positive. GBTA currently expects that 2014 spending will be strong across all categories. International outbound spending should increase by 12.4 percent to $36.6 billion on a 7.2 percent increase in trips. Group travel spending should increase by 7.2 percent to $124.1 billion on a 1.5 percent increase in trips.

Clearly, the GBTA outlook for 2014 should bode well for the job market,” said McCormick, “but it all depends on whether our elected leaders can keep the economy on track.”

Photo credit: Man rushing through terminal via Bigstock

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