A new report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) estimates that business travel contributes more than half a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy and is directly responsible for 7.4 million jobs.

The GBTA’s U.S. Business Travel Economic Impact Report said that business travel represents 3 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generates $134 billion in taxes for governments. “In a time where many policies have created uncertainty and disruption around travel, this study shows the importance of enacting pro-travel polices to our nation’s bottom line,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA’s executive director and COO.

U.S. companies spent an estimated $424 billion on business travel in 2016, GBTA reported, including $514.4 million domestic business trips. Business travellers spent an average of $520 on each trip (down about 2.2 per cent from 2015), including $163 on lodging, $180 on transportation, $94 on food and beverages, $33 on entertainment, and $50 on shopping. Sales trips and other transient travel accounted for about half of all trips, while group trips represented about one-quarter of business trips and the rest were a combination of business and leisure travel.

An overnight stay was involved in three-quarters of all business trips in the U.S. — about 40 per cent lasted 1-2 nights, 22 per cent were 3-4 nights, and 14 per cent lasted five nights or longer. Business travellers were more likely to drive their own personal vehicle (35 per cent) than to take a plane (28 per cent) or rent a car (13 per cent). The most popular destinations for business travel included California, New York, Texas, and Florida — not coincidentally, the states with the largest population density and most business centres.

As for business travellers themselves, the GBTA report found that more than 60 per cent are male, and that the average household income for a U.S. business traveller is about $82,000. About one-third possess a bachelor’s degree, and another third have a more advanced degree.