New GBTA report highlights huge impact of business travel on the US economy

For every 1% change in business travel spending, the U.S. economy gains or loses 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes.

That was one of the finding of the U.S. Business Travel Economic Impact Report, issued by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association.

The report, produced in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel, aims to underscore business travel’s importance as a “critical driver” of the US economy, Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and chief operating officer, said.

The study noted that business travel accounted for about 3% of US GDP in 2016. That is roughly on a par with the automotive industry, which is far more likely to be widely recognized as a building block of the economy.

McCormack added:

“In a time where many policies have created uncertainty and disruption around travel, this study shows the importance of enacting pro-travel polices to our nation’s bottom line.”

In 2016, the nation’s businesses spent $424 billion on 514.4 million domestic business trips, the study found.

The business travel industry supports 7.4 million jobs and generated $135 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

In addition to the direct benefit to industries that serve business travelers, supply chain beneficiaries received an additional indirect contribution of $132 billion.

The report is free to GBTA members; non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing

Breaking Down the 2016 Business Trip:

  • The average amount spent per business fell 2.2% to $520, including $163 on lodging, $180 on transportation, $94 on food and beverages in restaurants, $33 on entertainment and $50 on shopping and merchandise. These averages include both domestic and international inbound trips and both day and overnight trips.
  • Roughly half of US business trips were taken for transient purposes, such as sales trips, client services, government and military travel and travel for construction or repair. About 28% were taken for group travel purposes, and 25% were taken for a combination of business and leisure.
  • Three-quarters of the trips included an overnight stay. Nearly 40% included a 1-2 night stay, 22% a 3-4 night stay and 14% lasted 5 nights or longer. The largest share of business travel stays was in traditional hotels (42%), with 18% using alternatives such as “sharing economy” properties or B&Bs.
  • A personal car or truck (35%) was the most common mode of transportation among U.S. business travelers in 2016, followed by airplane (28%) and rental car (1%).

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