- - Monday, September 9, 2019

The amount of money that business travel contributes to the U.S. economy is staggering.

According to Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) research, U.S. businesses spent a total of $424 billion to send travelers out on the road for 514.4 million domestic business trips and are responsible for about 3 percent ($547 billion) of U.S. GDP.

Air travel is a major part of business travel and corporate spend. GBTA research shows 515 million domestic business trips are taken in a year. Nearly 30 percent involve air travel — meaning business travelers take to the skies over 144 million trips a year.

Business travel and air travel are vital for the U.S. and world economy. But climate activists and some “green” politicians have targeted commercial air travel to make it out to be the biggest offenders of the environment when that’s just not correct. Airlines are responsible for 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Make no mistake: The travel industry is concerned with the environment and is taking responsible actions to address climate concerns on a global level. Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or “CORSIA,” calls for carbon-neutral growth in international commercial aviation beginning in 2021. Over 75 percent of international aviation emissions growth after 2020 will be offset elsewhere through the U.N.-backed CORSIA. To date, 78 countries have signed up as part of an initial voluntary phase starting in 2021, with others joining in 2027. CORSIA will provide billions in funding for CO2 abatement efforts all over the world.

However, some environmental activists don’t support these global initiatives and are instead trying to shame people from flying (#flightshame). Politicians are looking to impose various taxes on air travel to make it more expensive in hopes of depressing air travel. Reducing flights will make a small impact on the environment but a large negative impact on the global economies.

Business travel is an economic driver that is essential to a healthy and growing economy because it allows businesspeople to connect with one another, to meet face to face, make deals and conduct commerce that grow and create jobs throughout the world. GBTA research backs this by finding for every 1 percent change in business travel spending, the U.S. economy gains or loses 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes.

The business travel industry, like most other industries, is concerned about its effects on the environment. Working to address a global problem must be done from a global perspective.

Imposing a random patchwork of taxes will only create confusion and higher prices without addressing the environmental concerns. Working together, as we are, with initiatives mentioned above as well as others, will be how we positively impact environmental change for the benefit of all.

Scott Solombrino is Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Global Business Travel Association.

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