With steady corporate profits, increases in business investment and an improving U.S. economy, business travel spending is expected to see a robust year in 2014. However, the ongoing government shutdown and potential default could derail progress and is already impacting business travel sentiment, says the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
The final “GBTA BTI Outlook – United States” of the year, sponsored by Visa Inc., forecasts that total U.S. business travel spending should grow by 7.2% in 2014, reaching $288.8 billion. Reversing a 2013 decline in trip volume, total trips taken should grow by 1.6% to 459.2 million.
But a recent GBTA survey of more than 250 business travel professionals found that two-thirds of respondents (66%) 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% of respondents, according to the GBTA survey.
“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,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and chief operating officer. “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. 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% of respondents say the shutdown has already impacted them, their company and/or their company’s employees, according to the GBTA survey. Of those who reported feeling an effect, the top three impacts were cancelled meeting or business opportunities in the U.S., increased uncertainty about the economy and cancelled bookings.
“Business travel spend is also a leading indicator of employment growth by one to two quarters,” said McCormick. “Clearly, the GBTA outlook for 2014 should bode well for the job market, but it all depends on whether our elected leaders can keep the economy on track.”