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Global Business Travel Forecast — New GBTA Study

In late July, The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation in Alexandria, Va. released its 4th annual business travel report. The study was sponsored by Visa, Inc. and is titled, “GBTA BTI™ Outlook — Annual Global Report and Forecast, Prospects for Global Business Travel 2012-2016.”

The GBTA Foundation analyzed the current state of global business travel spending and gave growth projections over the next five years. Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO said that this year’s data reinforces the GBTA’s opinion that the economic recovery is affecting certain types of countries and markets differently than others.

The GBTA also feels that emerging market countries that have shown growth in business travel will continue to grow as more of their citizens meet face-to-face for business meetings. The business travel forecast of developed markets is less certain, in part due to the ongoing European debt crisis. The GBTA feels it will take some time before these countries return to their pre-recession travel rate.

According to the study:

  • Global business travel spending is projected at $1.07 trillion in 2012—a 4.6 percent increase over 2011, but business travel is down slightly in the U.S. compared to emerging market countries.

  • Business travel growth in five emerging economies increased more than 15 percent in 2011. Russia grew 17.8 percent to $19.9 billion, Brazil grew 17.3 percent to $27.6 billion, China increased 16.7 percent to $173.2 billion, India went up 15.5 percent to $20.8 billion, and South Korea grew 13.4 percent to $29.6 billion.

  • U.S. business travel spending is expected to grow 3.7 percent annually through 2016. The construction industry will lead U.S. business travel spending, and is projected to grow 10.8 percent annually through 2016. The education industry is expected to increase 10 percent, real estate 5.8 percent, paper and paper products 5.5 percent and petroleum 3.3 percent. The report noted that historically business services, banking, finance, and retail have been the biggest areas of growth, but they really aren’t growing right now.

  • Europe and Japan are both struggling under the weight of debt restructuring, slowing exports and anemic domestic demand. The U.S. is stressed with the fallout from these external challenges, in addition to persistent unemployment and large fiscal imbalances. As a result, businesses are more cautious on hiring, equipment purchases and business travel.

  • China is an economic juggernaut that has grown at a double-digit pace over the past decade. China has gone from $32 billion in business travel spending in 2000 to $173 billion in 2011—a compound annual growth of 16.6 percent. As a result, China will surpass the U.S. in total business travel spending by 2014 — a year earlier than previously forecast.

  • Thanks to infrastructure improvements, increased political stability and the growth of a middle class, Brazil has become a major global economy and a leading business travel market. Brazil accounts for 61 percent of Latin America’s business travel spending in 2011 and total Brazilian business travel spending is expected to grow an average of 9.6 percent over the next five years.

Read the full report, “GBTA BTI™ Outlook — Annual Global Report and Forecast, Prospects for Global Business Travel 2012-2016.”

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