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Business travel spending on the rise

October 26, 2010 | 11:24 am

Burbank airline passengersSignaling growing confidence in the economy, business travel to and from the U.S. is on the rise but has yet to return to pre-recession levels, according to two newly released reports.

Business travel to the U.S. jumped 19% in the first six months of the year, while leisure visits increased 9% during the same period, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Meanwhile, the National Business Travel Assn. Foundation issued a forecast Tuesday that predicted U.S.-based business travel will increase by nearly 4% in 2010 over last year. The foundation is the research arm of the National Business Travel Assn., a trade group for travel professionals and planners.

Still, the U.S. Commerce report said business travel to the U.S. had not reached 2008 levels. The foundation forecast predicted that U.S.-based business travel spending won't return to pre-recession levels until at least 2012.

The foundation created a business travel index that measures current and future level of business travel. That index peaked in 2007 at 120. At the bottom of the recession, the index dropped to 96 but has rebounded to 106 and is expected to return to the 120 peak by 2012, according to the foundation.

“Business travel within and from the United States has seen solid recovery after two long years of diminution," Michael W. McCormick, the NBTA's executive eirector, said in a statement. "However, it is clear that companies are taking their time in shifting from the current cost-containment culture, and recovery will continue to ramp up slowly."

--Hugo Martin

Photo: Airline travelers prepare to board planes at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Credit: Los Angeles Times.