Global business travel expected to grow in 2018: report

Travelers enter the airport hotel at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, U.S. November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global business travel is expected to thrive in 2018, according to a report by a travel management group, as an improving world economy buoys confidence in the private sector and investment community.

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is forecasting growth across the travel sector, including air and ground transportation and hotel stays, with higher fares and increased bookings supporting the industry’s growth.

“The travel outlook looks bright as economic conditions continue to strengthen and growing business and consumer confidence translates into increased demand for travel,” GBT said in its report.

The travel company projected Asia will experience the most robust growth largely on the strength of economic progress in China and India.

Despite the generally optimistic outlook, increasingly protectionist policies across the globe and looming geopolitical instability continue to drag on the industry and stir uncertainty among stakeholders, according to the report.

GBT cited U.S. foreign policy and trade deal renegotiations as a potential hindrance for international travel, in addition to some route overcapacity and rapid expansion by low-cost carriers into the market.

The U.S. industry, however, has been preparing for a business travel boom in the wake of a U.S. tax overhaul that sharply reduced corporate income taxes.

Other policies supported by the Trump administration, including a pledge to reduce U.S. trade deficits and support initiatives that will put American corporations ahead of foreign competitors, have heartened businesses and investors and raised expectations for the near-term future of business travel.

Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Paul Simao