$1.18 Trillion Reasons Why Business Travel Matters

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Business travel in Asia Pacific, led by a dominant China, outpaces the rest of the world, according to a newly released travel forecast by the GBTA Foundation – the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association. Overall, the GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast, sponsored by Visa, Inc. expects global business travel spending to hit a record $1.18 trillion USD in 2014, a 6.9 percent growth over the previous year.

Driven by infrastructure investments, exports and service development, business travel spending in China has grown from $32 billion USD in 2000 to $225 billion USD in 2013, an average of 16.2 percent each year. By comparison, growth in business travel spending from the US has grown at an annual rate of just 1.1 percent since 2000.

The report, which details travel spending in 75 countries, along with the top industries, economic factors and characteristics that influence business travel, finds that record high business travel spending is driven by a few dominant markets – namely the US, China and Western Europe. The Global Annual Report & Forecast also shows that spending in the US and Western Europe will grow more slowly compared to Asia. Currently Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel spend market with 38 percent followed by North America (21 percent) and Western Europe (24 percent). GBTA expects that by 2018, Asia Pacific will have gained another 5 percent in market share, while the US and Western Europe will lose three percent and two percent, respectively.

“This report underscores that China, along with the other BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia and India are leveraging their business travel expenditures into more economic opportunities,” said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick.  “We expect to see this shift in business travel spending to continue.”

The report’s other key findings include:

  • 89 percent of total business spending around the world – totaling $984 billion USD – originated from traffic in Asia Pacific, Western Europe or North America.
  • Even accounting for concerns over an economic slowdown in the country, GBTA expects China to surpass the US in business travel spending by 2016.
  • Italy and Spain continue to slip in GBTA’s annual rankings of the top 15 countries by travel spend. In contrast, BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – continue to rise in the growth ranking, representing four of the top six countries in terms of business travel spending growth.
  • Regionally, Asia Pacific is already the largest business travel region in the world, comprising 38 percent of global business travel. Business travel spending in Asia Pacific totaled $392 billion USD in 2013 – more than doubling in size since 2000 with a growth rate of 7.5 percent annually. GBTA expects business travel spending to continue growing at a 10.2 percent annual pace over the next five years.

“This year’s global BTI™ predicts single-digit expansion of global spending on business travel and the emersion of the Asia Pacific region as the world’s largest travel market, comprising 38 percent of global business travel with two-thirds of that activity coming from China and Japan,” said Tad Fordyce, head of Global Commercial Solutions at Visa, Inc. “As global business travel is expected to continue growing in the coming years, China is projected to surpass the U.S. as the top business travel market in the world by 2016.”

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