TIA forecasts a strong rebound for 2004

WASHINGTON -- The Travel Industry Association (TIA) is a about a week away from releasing its updated forecast for the 2004 travel season. And that forecast is expected to reiterate what the association projected last fall: Travel is rebounding.

"Our forecast last October was very upbeat," said Andrea Stokes, director of research. "We were forecasting positive growth in business travel for 2004. We were forecasting position leisure travel growth, and that really hasn't changed. Our forecast is definitely going to be positive."

Stokes said the travel industry, like other business sectors, is being buoyed by the steadily improving economy, along with a favorable Labor Department report released last month that showed the U.S. added some 308,000 nonfarm jobs in March, six times more than February.

That's good news for consumers, and that translates into more people traveling.

"In general, throughout the first quarter of this year, things are picking up," Stokes said. "The jobs picture is looking better, so consumer confidence [going forward] will be better."

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