TIA study: Business and leisure travel on the rise this winter

There are still two months left in a winter travel season that the Travel Industry Association (TIA) is projecting will be busier than last year. The association predicts that travelers will take 251 million trips of 50 miles or more, one-way, up 2% from last winter.

(The TIA counts what it calls person-trips, or individual trips of more than 50 miles from home, in this research).

Should the TIAs projection come to fruition, it would establish a record for winter travel.

It would also be an improvement over the fall, when, based on TIA data, Hurricane Katrina and a tough job market conspired to slow travel to 279.4 million trips, 1.1% fewer than in fall 2004.

The projected 2% increase for this winter is reasonable growth for winter travel, said Roger Dow, the TIAs president and CEO.

Following the very soft fall travel season, we began to see signs of economic recovery, which translated into higher consumer confidence and spending, Dow said. Judging by this forecast, its apparent that travelers are far more confident about taking a winter trip.

The TIAs figures show that leisure trips will be up 2.4% to 202.6 million travelers.

Business and convention travel is expected to be up 1% compared with last winter.

Still, business/convention travel continues to fall short of the 37.1 million trips taken in the winter of 2000.

Since that year, winter business/convention travel declined to 31.6 million trips in 2001, 29.8 million in 2002, and 29.6 million in 2003, the lowest point during the last six years.

Winter business travel has slowly inched up since 2003.

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