US Business Travel Not Growing As Expected

US business travel is important for the US economy, as many industries rely on this specific type of spending. US business travel is important for the hospitality industry, but also for restaurants, the USCIS, transportation industries, and retail sectors. Recent numbers, however, suggest that US business travel is not growing as quickly as many experts would hope – and that sluggish growth may end up harming the economy overall.

According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the slow growth in the industry may be caused in part by slow economies in China, the US, and Europe, making travel seem less likely. The uncertain outcome of the US election may also be affecting travel decisions. Businesses are being more cautious about travel spending as well as other types of spending, according to the GBTA, due to the current state of the economy. GBTA executive director Michael W. McCormick says that these investments would actually help the economy.

US business spending is expected to reach $257 billion in 2012, an increase of 2.6 percent over the year before. This is actually an improvement of the 2.2 percent increase that the GBTA forecast. In 2013, the GBTA forecasts an increase of 4.9 percent. According to Visa, as well, US business travel spending may be increasing. Between January and June of this year, the credit card company reports, international travelers spending money in the US increased their Visa spending to $20.1 billion, an increase of nine percent.  However, according to the GBTA these increases in fact are caused by rising business travel costs rather than by an increase in business travel. The actual volume to business travel is expected to fall -1.6 percent between 2011 and 2012, from 445 million to 438.1 million.

According to the GBTA, an increase in US business travel will help strengthen the US economy. Indeed, the US relies on visitors from other countries. Tourists spend money on attractions and retail experiences. Business travelers can be especially positive for the economy because they may be investing in US businesses or opening partnerships or offices in the US. Both presidential candidates are interested in attracting skilled foreign workers to the US and there are already visa programs in the US designed to attract foreign investors and entrepreneurs.