A new study out from the Alexandria, Va.-based Global Business Travel Association finds a profound economic shift in business travel that is completely reshaping the landscape, as BRIC nations boom and developed nations recede.
Global spending on business travel is expected to reach $1.12 trillion this year, according to the Visa-sponsored GBTA BTI Outlook. That figure represents a 5.4 percent increase over 2012, with travel spending getting stabilized after what GBTA called “a year rocked by worldwide economic and political uncertainty.”
“Travel is indispensable to trade, commerce and business expansion in a global economy,” noted Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “This report shows that new opportunities are opening up in markets around the world for companies willing to invest in business travel to drive growth.”
GBTA expects steady spending on business travel in the second half of 2013 to lay the foundation for 8.2 percent growth in 2014, followed by 7.6 percent, 7.2 percent and 7.1 percent growth each year through 2017.
Though the numbers are generally positive, McCormick said the 2013 report served as yet another wake-up call for the U.S. and Europe to “improve aging infrastructure, establish fiscal order and stay competitive, because emerging economies are increasingly focused on meeting their own fast-growing business travel needs.”
A lopsided economic recovery means that developing nations in Asia-Pacific and Latin America will likely reshape business travel significantly over the next five years, with BRIC nations leading the way.
“This year’s global BTI shows the importance that emerging markets like China, Brazil and India play in the global business travel marketplace,” Tad Fordyce, head of global commercial solutions at Visa Inc., explained in the report. “With global business travel expected to experience continued growth in the next few years, China is projected to overcome the U.S. as the top business travel market in the world by 2016.”
Indeed, China is well on its way. Companies in the People’s Republic spent $196 billion last year, a 13.2 percent increase over 2011. Brazil (at 9.3 percent growth) and India (at 5.8 percent growth) saw major changes in 2012 as well. Brazil is expected to become the sixth-largest business travel market by 2014, while India is expected to accelerate its growth to a rate of 13.5 percent across the next five years, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
Scroll through the slideshow above for a complete look at the top 15 global markets for business travel and their growth or decline in 2012.