Business travelers are forecast to spend $245.8 billion this year, up nearly 7 percent from 2010, thanks to improving economic conditions and increasing corporate confidence, an industry trade group said Tuesday. That prediction is $6.5 billion better than an outlook released in January, and growth is expected to continue at least through 2012.
"These are very heartening signs. Business travel spending is coming back at robust levels, indicating the shape of things to come _ namely more travelers on the road, an improving economy and a positive environment for continued job growth," Michael W. McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association said in a statement.
Spending picked up at the end of 2010, with business travelers taking 113.6 million trips during the fourth quarter. They spent $60.6 billion, up more than 12 percent from the same period in 2009. For the first quarter of 2011, preliminary numbers show that travelers spent $60.2 billion, up 4 percent from the year before.
Half of this year's spending growth will come from more expensive airfare, hotels, car rentals and meals. The average business trip in 2010 cost $533, according to the group. For 2011, it is expected to climb 3.4 percent to $551. Pricier international travel is also growing faster than domestic trips.
While the industry is concerned about the higher price of oil, the association said it would not derail travel. If oil hits $150 a barrel, the group expects business travelers to spend $5.8 billion, or 1.5 percent less and make 700,000 fewer trips during 2012 and 2013. A scenario at $200 a barrel would lead to an expected loss of $9 billion in spending and 2.7million fewer trips but would not stop the overall growth in travel, the association said.