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Business travel spending set to rise in 2016 - study

[BERLIN] Spending on business travel in Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Italy is expected to rise by over 6 per cent annually in 2015 and 2016, indicating the European economy is gaining traction, according to a study by a leading business travel association.

Spending on business travel suffered as a result of the financial downturn which led companies to rein in spending.

Business travel bounced back in 2014 and spending in the five western European countries is expected to rise by 6.4 per cent in 2015 and 6.3 per cent in 2016, a study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

That will take the market to US$210.6 billion in 2016, up from US$186.3 billion in 2014.

Since hitting a low of US$171.7 billion in 2009, spending on business travel in the five countries has grown at an annual compound rate of 2.4 per cent, meaning the 2015 and 2016 rates represent a significant pick-up. "The study shows that the European economy is gathering steam and beginning to put its economic woes in the rear-view mirror," said Catherine McGavock, GBTA's regional vice president for EMEA, ahead of a gathering by business travel executives in Frankfurt next week.

However, the picture is mixed. In Germany, the largest business travel market in western Europe at an estimated US$57.9 billion, spending is set to rise 9.5 per cent in 2016, while in Britain spending is expected to rise by 6.2 per cent, driven by lower unemployment and fuel costs helping to boost consumption.

Meanwhile, France and Italy will see growth of 3.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent due to their weaker economic growth.

The five countries account for nearly 70 per cent of the business travel market in western Europe.