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Want to Guess How Business Travel and Foreign Tourism are Doing?

October 18, 2012 at 9:10 AM | by | Comment (1)

So this is all kinds of bad. Apparently the recovery in business travel that began in 2010 is slowing down dramatically, and potentially dragging the airline industry with it. In 2010 American companies increased their travel spending by 5.1%. The year after that they did even better, increasing their spending by 7.2%. But after everything is said and done in 2012, they will have increased their travel spending for the year by...2.6%. It's not a dip. But it's not exactly what you want either.

And even that modest increase in spending is occuring mostly because ticket prices have increased, not because people are actually traveling more. If current trends hold up, in fact, total business travel will have net decreased in 2012 by about a percent. That is a dip.

If the airline industry begins to show signs of trouble, expect even more pushback to the idiotic busybody campaigns that Congress routinely launches. Useless and expensive is a hallmark of travel politics. But useless, expensive, and positively dangerous might be enough to get politicians to back off.

Although hey, maybe we've got this all wrong. Maybe Congress can actually help here.

Remember that crack tourism agency designed to promote "Vegas-style tourism," which Congress created at the behest of restaurant and hotel lobbies and then funded by fining foreign tourists $10 per ticket? We were deeply skeptical about the whole idea—commenting that "only our Congress could possibly pretend that the best way to promote tourism is by fining incoming tourists"—but maybe we were wrong. Maybe it worked and the increase in foreign tourism will make up for the lose in domestic business travel.

Or, according to a recent Congressional report evaluating the Brand USA tourism agency, exactly the opposite. Or, according to that report, the agency has become a vortex of waste, cronyism, junkets, and accounting tricks that waste precious resources. Or, per Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina describing the report with a line that will sound familiar, "only Washington could think that taxing tourists will increase tourism."

So to sum up: (1) always trust content from Jaunted, and (2) we're boned.

[Photo: ChrisDag / Flickr]

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Tour to Sri Lanka

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