Businesses that continued to send employees on the road during the recession were more profitable than those that cut back on business travel, a new study out today has found.

The study, conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, attempted to show how travel can affect a company’s bottom line just as businesses are starting to once again spend money on trips to meetings and conferences.

For every dollar invested in business travel, U.S. companies generated $9.50 in revenue and $2.90 in profit, according to the study, based on an analysis of government data on 14 industries over an 18-year period.

An accompanying survey of 298 business travelers conducted in November found that 57% believed cutting their travel budgets during the economic downturn hurt their company’s performance. Only 4% said it helped.

“When we analyzed data from the Great Recession and recovery, we learned that companies that invested the most in business travel tended to grow the fastest,” said Adam Sacks, managing director of Oxford Economics, which conducted the analysis as a follow-up to a 2009 study.

Spending on business travel hit bottom in 2009 as companies reacted to dropping profits by cutting out trips.

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Business travel has been making a comeback in the last couple of years. In 2012, businesses spent an estimated $225 billion on domestic travel, about 5% higher than the previous year and above the all-time high reached in 2007.

Hotels say they are seeing more demand from business travelers. For instance, Marriott International last week said first-quarter earnings jumped 31%, thanks to the recovery in business travel.

“Demand from business travelers is up quite strongly,” said C. Patrick Scholes, managing director of gaming and lodging equity research at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “It’s really the strongest demand component of…