Forecast: Business Travel Spending to Reach 2019 Level in 2024

Overall U.S. business travel volume remains on track to grow steadily until 2024, when it should fully recover to per-pandemic 2019 levels, according to a new forecast from the U.S. Travel Association. 

The organizations project 2021 U.S. business transient and group spending to total $93 billion and $43 billion, respectively, up from $59 billion and $28 billion in 2020 but well shy of the pr-Covid levels of $157 billion and $113 billion in 2019.

Those spending figures should increase steadily in 2022 and 2023, according to the forecast. Then, 2024 U.S. business transient and group spending is projected to reach $164 billion and $113 billion, at least matching 2019 levels. 

“While we see much reason for optimism on the horizon, our forecast reveals that travel’s recovery is uneven with much work ahead to ensure all segments reach pre-pandemic levels,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. “We believe that the U.S. can implement smart, effective policies that bring back international visitors more quickly and spur business and professional travel to accelerate an economic and jobs rebound.”

Among those policies the U.S. federal government should implement, according to the association, are steps to ensure the Transportation Security Administration and the Customs and Border Protection operations are fully staffed and the enactment of a temporary tax credit for meeting venues, event organizers and small business to help spur meeting demand. The organization also has called for temporarily allowing the full tax deductibility of business entertainment expenses. 

MMBC Joins U.S. Travel

Meanwhile, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition has integrated into U.S. Travel, the association announced Monday. 

The coalition formed in the wake of the 2007-08 economic downturn, a time when extravagant corporate events were drawing criticism, to stress the economic and business importance of meetings. Joining U.S. Travel will allow MMBC to “benefit more directly from the association’s robust public affairs resources and advocacy network while providing greater value to coalition members as business travel and professional meetings and events rebuilds from steep pandemic-related losses,” according to the organization.

It wasn’t clear if the move included financial considerations, and U.S. Travel didn’t immediately return a request for clarification.