Airfares worldwide will increase in 2007, though more slowly than they did in 2006, and hotel and car rental rates will also rise next year, according to the American Express Global Business Travel Forecast.

The forecast predicts an average domestic North America business trip, including airfare, car rental and hotel stay will increase $46 or 4.5% next year, while an average international trip with airfare and hotel will increase $180 or 4.6%.

In the U.S., domestic economy fares will rise 3 to 6% in 2007. International business-class fares will climb 2 to 4%, the report said.

American Express also predicts "skyrocketing demand for hotels across all regions" combined with little growth in supply will lead to higher rates in a "sellers' market" for lodging in 2007.

Rates in cities like New York may rise as much as 18%, American Express said. Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco rates are expected to climb 5 to 7% at mid-range properties and 8 to 10% at upper-range properties.

But the problem of higher demand and limited supply in hotel availability is not just a domestic issue. In Hong Kong and cities in Australia, for instance, hotel rates could grow in the double-digits in 2007, according to the forecast.

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