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WASHINGTON-The nation's business people are more likely to stay put this winter than a year ago, the Travel Industry Association reports.

Sixty percent of the 1,500 adults surveyed said they are not at all likely to travel on business from December through February, compared with 52% a year ago. Only 24% said they are "very" or "somewhat" likely to travel for business or to a convention, down from 27%.

People who felt better about their own personal financial outlook were more likely to say they expect to travel for business. Of those who said their personal finances would improve by February, 22% said they expect to travel for business; of those who expected their personal situation to worsen, 17% said a business trip is likely.

Among people who planned a major purchase this winter, 29% expected to make a business trip; 22% of those who didn't expect a major purchase said a business trip is likely.

"This perhaps reflects the growing number of self-employed Americans whose business travel may depend heavily on their own personal economic condition," the association said in its report, released last month.

Even though fewer people expect to travel, business and convention travel in terms of person-trips is expected to rise 4.2% this winter to 62 million, the association said. Business and convention travel in the winter of 1992-1993 consisted of 59.5 million person-trips, with 49% of the trips totaling less than 500 miles.

Cars, trucks and recreational vehicles were the mode of transportation 57% of the time, followed by airplanes at 40%. The average duration of each trip was 3.7 nights, with 69% of the travelers spending the night at hotels or motels. Two-thirds of the travelers made trips by themselves. Business was the primary reason for the trips (cited by 68%; 10% attended a convention or conference; and 22% combined business and pleasure).

As for travel services, 22% used rental cars, 2% were on package tours, 27% consulted travel agents and 21% actually used travel agents.

The survey was conducted by the U.S. Travel Data Center, an association affiliate, as part of its ongoing Travelometer program that examines and forecasts travel trends. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.M

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