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Budget battles could slow business travel spending, group warns

October 20, 2013|By Hugo Martin
(Southwest Airlines )

Spending on business travel is expected to surge in 2014, a sign of continuing confidence in the American economy, an industry group said. But the rosy business outlook could be marred by further feuding in Washington that leads to another government shutdown.

The message of caution came from a forecast released last week by the Global Business Travel Assn., the Virginia-based trade group for corporate travel managers.

Based on business indicators, the group predicted $288.8 billion in spending in the U.S., a 7.2% increase over 2013. It forecast 459 million trips for the year, a 1.6% rise compared with 2013.

During the depths of the recession, that number dropped to 434 million trips in 2009. The industry still has a long way to go to come near the high of 576 million business trips taken in 2000.

The study results were released a few days before Congress and the White House reached an agreement to settle the budget battle that partially shut down the federal government for 16 days. But that deal is temporary, raising the chance of another deadlock in January or February that the business travel group fears could slow the nation’s economic momentum.

“Another self-destructive U.S. government shutdown will absolutely have negative consequences for business travel and the economy as it would only further damage our country’s reputation as a place to do business,” said Michael McCormick, executive director and chief operating officer of the GBTA. ”It is critical to this country’s future position as a leader in the global economy that our elected officials work to keep the U.S. open for business.”

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