China Leads Global Business Travel Spending

Photo via Wikimedia.
Photo via Wikimedia.

Despite recent economic turbulence, China business travel will increase by 61% over the next five years, from $261 billion in 2014 to $420 billion in 2019, according to the “GBTA BTI Outlook — Annual Global Report & Forecast” by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation.

That increase is greater than the increases in business travel growth in the next eight largest countries combined, including the U.S., Germany, India, U.K., Indonesia, France, Turkey and Japan, according to the GBTA report.

Overall, the GBTA forecast — sponsored by Visa Inc. — finds that global business travel spending will hit a record $1.25 trillion USD in 2015, a 6.5% growth over 2014. Growth will remain strong through 2019, with business travel projected to grow 6.9% in 2016, 6% in 2017, 6.4% in 2018 and 5.8% in 2019.

The GBTA Foundation’s report details business travel spending in 75 countries across 48 industries over 15 years, including a rolling five-year projection.

“Despite recent economic speed bumps, China will pull away as the global leader in business travel over the next five years,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and chief operating officer. “On the horizon, we’ve identified five nations that are also seeing extraordinary growth and could very well turn into the business travel markets of the future. Another market to watch is India, which is statistically where China was 15 years ago.”

In 2014, the majority of business travel spending occurred in a few dominant markets. Over two-thirds of total business travel spending continues to occur in the U.S., China and Western Europe, according to the report. Currently, Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel spend market with 39%, followed by North America with 27% and Western Europe with 24%.

By 2019, GBTA expects Asia Pacific will have gained another 3.5 percentage points in market share, while the U.S. and Western Europe will lose 2.7 percentage points and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

Other highlights from the GBTA report include:

  • In 15 years, India is likely to be a top five market in business travel spending. In 2014, India had $26 billion in business travel spending and is expected to grow to $45 billion by 2019. 
  • The five newly emerging markets include Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland and Turkey.
  • Business travel spending in Asia Pacific totaled $459 billion in 2014, and is projected to grow at 7.7% CAGR over the next five years.
  • Travelers in North America spent $318 billion on business travel in 2014, with 90% coming from the U.S. Mexico is projected to be the most robust business travel market in North America over the next five years, projected to grow at 7.7% percent CAGR.
  • Travelers in Western Europe spent $271 billion on business travel in 2014. It is projected that business travel will increase by 4.8% in 2015.
  • Latin American business travel totaled $52 billion in 2014, led by Brazil, which totaled $32 billion. Business travel spending in Latin America will grow 5.9% CAGR through 2019.
  • The Middle East, Emerging Europe and Africa accounted for $77 billion in business travel spending in 2014.

“The global business travel market is incredibly dynamic, with dozens of countries around the world, such as China, India and Mexico, growing at remarkable rate,” said Brian Triplett, SVP, head of commercial product, Visa Inc. “As these markets develop, safe and secure electronic payments will help corporations and business travelers around the globe track and manage their business travel spend.”

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