Business Travel in Asia Pacific Poised for Significant Rebound in 2023, Spending Forecast to Reach Almost $800 Billion by 2027

Business Travel in Asia Pacific Poised for Significant Rebound in 2023, Spending Forecast to Reach Almost $800 Billion by 2027

Esplanade Bridge
  The GBTA APAC Conference 2023 was held at the Shangri-La Singapore, September 19-20

GBTA reveals regional outlook data and insights during its sold-out 2023 GBTA APAC Conference held this week in Singapore

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA);

After challenging years due to the pandemic, for 2023 and beyond, business travel in Asia Pacific is forecast for significant growth, with travel spending gaining 41% to USD $567 billion this year ─ and rising to $800 billion by 2027. China’s reopening and robust domestic demand will be a big catalyst for the growth. Solid rebound is also anticipated in Japan, South Korea, and Australia​, along with the return of international business travel, which is anticipated to boost Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia​.

Additionally, today’s business traveler in APAC may spend less overall per business trip but may index higher on food and beverage and hotel expenses as well as the desire for more premium options and blended (or “bleisure”) travel than their fellow corporate travelers in other global regions.

This is according to regional forecasts and trends for APAC from the 2023 GBTA Business Travel Outlook (BTI) which were unveiled onstage this week at the GBTA APAC Conference in Singapore by GBTA CEO, Suzanne Neufang. The BTI annual report offers a comprehensive overview of business travel spending and growth across 72 countries and 44 industries and highlights the global business travel spending forecast and key trends for 2023-2027. Additionally, for 2023 the BTI also incorporates insights from a survey of 4,700 business travelers across five global regions including APAC, who reported their preferences, behaviours, spending habits, and the average cost of a business trip now.

“The growth and opportunities ahead in the APAC business travel sector are reflected in our regional spending forecast but could also be seen by the tremendous response and engagement this week among the delegates and partners attending our sold-out GBTA conference, the second event we’ve held in APAC,” said Catherine Logan, GBTA Regional Senior Vice President for EMEA and APAC. “We are grateful for all who made it possible including our newly formed GBTA APAC Advisory Board, conference presenters, sponsors, volunteers, and the APAC business travel community.”

APAC Forecast and Highlights from the Latest BTI Outlook (figures in US dollars):​

  • A significant rebound in the region is expected for 2023, with business travel spending gaining 41% to $567 billion. China’s reopening will be a big catalyst for the growth driven by robust demand for domestic consumption rather than demand for investment goods. ​
  • A solid rebound in other major economies in the region ─ Japan, South Korea, and Australia ─ in 2023. Likewise, the return of international business travel has fuelled markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
  • In 2023, the Asia Pacific region is expected to reach 92% of its 2019 business travel spending of $616 billion.​
  • In 2022, the Asia Pacific region continued to account for the largest share of global business travel spend, totalling $402 billion or 39% of the global total. This is down significantly from the region’s 50% share of global spending 2021, however. ​
  • While business travel spending in the rest of the world grew at a rate of 80% in 2022, APAC’s spending increased only 15% from 2021 levels. The underperformance was fueled by the economic shutdown in China and the subsequent decline of 4.6% in Chinese business travel spending last year. ​

From The Source: A View of Today’s Business Traveler in APAC

  • LESS SPEND. In a GBTA survey, Asia Pacific business travelers said on average they spent $1,038 per trip last year, less per trip than North American travelers ($1,219) – but more than Europe travelers ($888) and Latin American travelers ($661)​.
  • TOPS IN F&B. Food and beverage expenses account for a larger share of per-trip cost in APAC (21%) than any other region including LATAM (17%), NORAM (17%), and Europe (18%). Air travel accounts for a similar share of per-trip cost in APAC (16%) and Europe (17%). However, it accounts for a higher percentage in NORAM (21%) and LATAM (26%) where employees likely travel further distances on business trips – especially international trips. Lodging represents the highest percentage of per-trip spending in all four regions. However, the percentage is lower in APAC (32%) than NORAM (40%), LATAM (40%), and Europe (41%).​
  • HOW THEY BOOK. One-quarter of APAC-based business travelers (25%) say they booked their last work trip through “managed” channels (i.e., travel management company or online booking tool). While higher than the share of LATAM-based travelers (19%) who did so, this is slightly lower than the share of NORAM (29%) and Europe-based travelers (32%). Similarly, APAC and LATAM travelers are more likely to book through retail channels.​
  • PREMIUM PLEASE. APAC business travelers commonly fly premium. Of the APAC business travelers who took an airplane on their last work trip, two in five (40%) flew business class or first class. This is similar to the share of NORAM-based travelers (44%) who flew premium, but higher than the share of Europe-based (30%) or LATAM-based travelers (32%) who did so.​ Similarly, almost two in five APAC-based business travelers (38%) stayed at an upscale or luxury hotel on their last work trip. This is similar to the share of NORAM-based travelers who did so (42%), and higher than the share of Europe-based (32%) and LATAM-based (24%) travelers.​
  • MORE LIKELY TO BLEND. Almost half of APAC-based business travelers (45%) extended a work trip for leisure time this year or last year. This is higher than the share of travelers who took a blended trip in any other region.​
  • TRAVEL WITH PURPOSE. 70% are now traveling the same or more than they did in 2019, with 81% reporting business travel is worthwhile for them to achieve their business objectives.

GBTA Conference Delivers Community and Learning for the APAC Business Travel Sector

The GBTA APAC Conference 2023 was held at the Shangri-La Singapore, September 19-20, and was co-located for the first time with the Worldwide ERC Global Mobility Summit, providing all delegates with unparalleled opportunities to learn and network across both conferences.

More than 600 total attendees came together, including 400+ GBTA event delegates and over 120 travel buyers from 17 countries to network, gain insights from industry experts, and engage in peer-to-peer education.

“What a great turnout at the GBTA APAC Conference in Singapore with exceptional networking, inspiring content and energized engaged delegates. We are thrilled the conference has been so well received and look forward to continuing grow GBTA’s presence in APAC,” said Peter Koh, Chairperson, GBTA APAC Advisory Board.

The two-day conference featured insightful Main Stage speakers, buyer/supplier roundtables and “The Big Idea” innovation workshop session focused on artificial intelligence. Education sessions featured timely topics from across the business travel ecosystem including business traveler engagement, measuring the environment impact of travel programs, the resiliency of travel and meetings in Asia, managing risk, and negotiating rates in the current NDC environment.

GBTA also announced it will host its third APAC Conference in Singapore, May 13-14, 2024.

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