The National Business Travel Association, Alexandria, Va., found that more than 67 percent of 240 corporate travel managers it surveyed said their companies have cut travel in response to the war with Iraq. This appears to contradict an earlier survey conducted by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, which found only 9 percent of business travelers surveyed canceling business travel because of the war with Iraq. SARS also caused 55 percent to decrease travel, the NBTA survey found, and 36 percent put the blame on the nation'’ orange-level terrorism threat. Almost half of respondents said travel was decreased due to corporate profit estimates. The survey was released April 8.
Fifty-four percent said they expected total travel spending this year to be down from 2002 levels, and 74 percent didn’t expect business travel to recover until 2004 or later. The reasons for the decline include traveler concerns over traveling since the war started (73 percent). To combat these concerns, some travel managers are offering corporate travelers global cell phones and 24-hour hotlines they can call in case they run into an emergency on the road. Also, most companies are requiring employees to book through company agencies, asking for additional contact information, and providing precautions about international travel.
NBTA also has updated its security Web site, which includes links for further information on homeland security, war concerns, and medical issues. Go to NBTA Homeland Security for more.
The Travel Industry Association of America, headquartered in Washington, D.C., also provided a gloomy forecast in its War Impact Survey, released April 9. The survey found that business and air travel continues to decline, and said that 71 percent of Americans said won’t be traveling overseas during the spring and summer high seasons. Thirty-one of those said their decision was a direct result of the war and the faltering economy. "Urban areas will be hit doubly hard this spring and summer as they feel the effects of the downturn in international inbound visitation and the downturn in business travel. To a lesser extent, these urban areas will also be affected by lower interest in leisure travel visitation from Americans," TIA announced in a press release.
While William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America, said, "There's reason for cautious optimism when it comes to leisure travel," war and the economy continue to take a toll on business travel, already down more than 10 percent since 2000, with 26 percent of business travelers traveling less or not at all this spring or summer compared to last year. Only 9 percent say they’ll travel more. Those planning to travel less or not at all said their decisions were based on reduced travel budgets (39 percent), no need to travel (38 percent), high cost of travel (29 percent), not wanting to be away from home (21 percent), and restriction of trips by employer (15 percent).