Road Warrior

Business travel spending accounts for 3% of GDP

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Business travel makes up about 3 percent of the U.S. gross national product, according to a new report from the Global Business Travel Association.

The report released Wednesday is based on 2012, the most recent information available. In 2012, $384 billion was chalked up to business travel-initial spending, a 2.9 percent increase from 2011. The report calculates the ripple-effect of business travel, including trip-related costs and meeting operations spending.

U.S. domestic business travelers spent an average of $540 per trip in 2012, according to the study. Those expenses includes $147 on lodging, $230 on transportation, $100 on food and drinks, $28 for shopping and $22 for entertainment. When air travel was involved, the average expenditure hit $1,100 per trip. The typical business traveler is a married, mid-career manager with an annual household income of $102,329.

"We say business travel drives business growth. It's a key driver of the economy, a key driver of jobs," Mike McCormick, the association's executive director and chief operating officer, told CNBC.

For 2014, the association forecast growth of 6.6 percent when it comes to direct travel spending.

The association isn't alone when it comes to optimism. The most recent hotel data continue to show growth. The U.S. hotel industry's average occupancy in February was up 3.3 percent over a year ago, to 60.3 percent with an average daily rate of $111.94, according to the trade research group STR.

Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association slightly downgraded its otherwise upbeat forecast for airline industry net profits in 2014. The recent dampening was due to jet fuel prices and emerging market conditions but the association otherwise forecast an increase in airline profits to $18.7 billion in 2014 from $12.9 billion in 2013.

Airlines expecting passenger spike

One pressing issue for business travel is taxes, McCormick said.

Last year, his trade group calculated business travel taxes averaged $29.94 per day. "For every dollar spent on business travel, 30 cents is going to taxes," he said, adding that the rate is on par with sin taxes aimed at discouraging certain habits.

"Every time you raise a fee at the airport, a tax at the car rental place or raise the overall cost of the business traveler, you're hurting the economy," he said.

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