Global business travel poised for strong advance but uncertainty lingers in the United States

Global business travel spend approached US$1.3 trillion in 2016

Global business travel spend approached US$1.3 trillion in 2016, advancing only 3.5 per cent over 2015 levels, according to the GBTA BTI Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast, a new report released at GBTA Convention 2017 by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of GBTA. Pending many global uncertainties, business travel spending is expected to accelerate significantly in 2018, advancing 6.1 per cent, followed by roughly 7.0 per cent growth in both 2019 and 2020. Business travel spending gains have not reached this level since 2011.

“Global business travel remains a critical driver of the success of organizations around the globe,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “Stronger footing in emerging markets and continued economic stimulus in the developed world has supported global stability leading to a positive forecast that is unfortunately clouded with more uncertainty than we have seen in decades.”

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Business travel looks solid, but uncertainty is unusually high

Many signs show the global economy is improving. Consumers are spending, trade and investment are finally on the rise, corporate profits and management sentiment are strong, commodity prices have stabilized, recessions in Brazil, Russia and Argentina have ended, and China’s soft landing continues. Taking these factors into account, business travel growth looks solid over the coming years, however, uncertainty abounds. Political polices, geopolitical tensions and financial concerns have intensified. The Global Economic Policy Uncertainty Index, which began in 1997, has hit an all-time, 20-year high.

Some sources of uncertainty could ultimately have a positive impact on business travel as lower corporate tax rates are pushed forward and business regulations are rolled back as infrastructure investment increases around the globe. Other factors will have a decidedly more negative impact on business travel including trade policy renegotiation, terrorism, travel and immigration bans, sanctions, electronics bans and geopolitical tensions.

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The annual rankings

For the second straight year in 2016, China topped the charts, surpassing the United States as the largest business travel market in the world. The top 15 remained unchanged from last year with the exception of India rising two spots.

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More information:

The report, GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing Click here to view a free preview of the research.

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