Corporate uncertainty due to the U.S. economy will slow down business travel growth in 2012, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

GBTA’s latest Business Travel Quarterly Outlook for the United States indicates that this year, business travel spending is expected to grow 6.9%, hitting $250.2 billion.

However, the economy is fostering “more of a wait-and-see approach among corporations heading into next year,” GBTA said, leading to a forecast of 4.3% growth in travel spending for 2012, to $260.9 billion.

“Uncertain economic conditions around the world continue to impact companies, which in turn impacts business travel plans and can lead to hesitation in spending,” Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO, said in a statement. “However, business travel spending growth remains vibrant, and the current environment does not portend a dramatic travel slowdown.”

McCormick said companies realize that a certain level of business travel is critical to driving growth.

“They recognize where they cut back too much during the recession and won’t make the same mistakes twice because they know there is great value in personal relationships, and business travel is a critical component in sealing those bonds,” McCormick said.

While spending on group travel (meetings, incentives and conventions) bounced back in 2010 and 2011, the GBTA report found that uncertainty in the economy will likely lead to a spending slowdown for meetings travel next year.

GBTA projects group travel spending to grow 3.5% in 2012, about half as fast as the expected 6.8% growth in 2011.

For news and updates on agent and distribution issues, follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw

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