Business travel defies economic gloom

UK business travel appears to be holding up despite fears of recession, with the Guild of Travel Management Companies reporting a 7% rise in transactions in the first three months of the year.

However, air travel and car-hire bookings were down year on year in the first quarter and the GTMC warned growth was likely to tail off from here.

The 7% increase in business over early 2007 was largely due to a 22% rise in hotel bookings through GTMC members, which handle 80% of the UK’s corporate travel. Rail bookings were up 16%, but air travel was down 1% and car hire by 5% compared with a year ago.

The GTMC points out direct comparisons with 2007 are difficult because Easter this year fell in March rather than April and the school break was separate from the bank holiday. Any holiday period naturally leads to a decline in corporate travel.

GTMC chief executive Philip Carlisle said: “The British economy is proving to be robust. But we do suspect the economy, and business travel in particular, will enter a period of reduced growth from here on in.”


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