Business travel spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2022, fueled by strong year-over-year growth including a 5.8 per cent spending increase in 2017 and a projected 7.1 per cent increase in 2018.

Surging business travel spending follows several years of comparatively lacklustre growth between 2012 and 2016. However, words of caution were delivered alongside the optimism embodied in the annual travel spending report and forecast by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

“This pick-up in growth could signify an end to the ‘era of uncertainty’ in global business travel, but rising protectionism is coming at precisely the wrong time,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO.

“The direction of trade policy is far and away the biggest wild card that could impact our forecast for global business creating uncertainty that could derail the recovery.”

The report noted that while short-term economic stimuli — such as the corporate tax cuts enacted by the US Congress and the Trump administration – may be driving the increase in business travel spending, factors like protectionist tariffs and trade policies, rising interest rates, and ballooning government deficits could inhibit progress.

Brexit has had a notably negative effect on business travel in the UK, GBTA noted, whereas India and Indonesia have seen the highest growth and are seen as the markets with the greatest potential for market expansion.

China is expected to remain the world’s largest business travel market despite a slowing economy, whereas the market in the US – formerly the world leader in business travel — is predicted to grow more slowly than the global average.