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September 21, 2014

A Bullish Global Business Travel Forecast, Shadowed by Geopolitical Risks

Spending on global business travel will reach $1.18 trillion this year, nearly 7 percent higher than in 2013, according to a forecast issued Monday by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.

The United States remains the top market for business travel, with $274 billion spent on business trips in 2013.

But business travel in China grew at 15 percent in 2013, a far faster rate than in the United States, with total business travel expenditures at $225 billion in China.

The business travel forecast notes that “risks to our relatively upbeat forecast are palpable,” pointing to “the relatively fragile state of Europe, financial challenges in many emerging markets, and current geopolitical conditions.”

Last year, the report said, aggregate global spending on business travel grew by 4.5 percent, but it is “still somewhat restrained by the uncertainty in both developed and emerging markets.”

The report said that the Asia Pacific region is the largest business travel region, with 38 percent of the world’s business travel.

“Business travel spending in the Asia Pacific region has grown 7.5%, annually, since 2000, more than doubling in size,” the report said. “We expect that business travel spending in the region will grow at a 10.2% annual pace over the next five years.”

Even though the report was written before the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine on July 17 by a surface-to-air missile, it does note that “the Ukrainian situation poses a major risk to both the Russian and European economic outlook. An escalating Ukrainian crisis could push Europe and Russia into recession.”

It also says “the biggest impediment to business travel growth in Emerging Europe comes from the Ukrainian crisis and plummeting business travel activity in Russia.”

The data analysis for the report was done by Rockport Analytics, a consulting firm based in West Chester, Pa.

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