Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo, have topped ECA International’s Top Ten Most Expensive Locations For Business Travel in Asia list.
“Singapore overtook Tokyo in 2022 to become the second-most expensive city in Asia to visit for business,” said Lee Quane, regional director – Asia at ECA International.
“Business travel to the city picked up earlier than most other locations in the region with the government’s comprehensive lifting of travel restrictions. The resulting increase in demand contributed to rises in hotel accommodation costs, while costs associated with other daily essentials consumed by business travellers also increased at a faster rate than other locations in the region. Together, these propelled Singapore to second place in Asia and 19th worldwide.”
The average business trip to Singapore now costs US$515 per day – an increase of US$34 from the year before, just slightly cheaper than Hong Kong.
Tokyo fell one place in the ranking and is now the third most expensive city to visit in Asia. Although daily costs for business travellers have increased in local currency terms in the past year, the depreciation of the yen against the US dollar has caused it to fall in the rankings.
“In local currency terms business travellers’ costs rose by over five per cent in Tokyo last year,” explained Quane. “However, the weaker yen means that with average costs of US$424 per day, the average daily cost of business travel is almost 20 per cent lower than in Hong Kong. It is now ranked outside the top 30 most expensive cities for business travel globally, and other Japanese locations have experienced similar falls in the past year.”
Meanwhile, locations in Taiwan including Taipei and Hsinchu have risen in the rankings, with both locations entering the ranking of the 10 most expensive business travel destinations in Asia.
“The rise in our rankings of Taipei is largely due to the fact that locations such as Yokohama, Beijing and Macau, which were all more expensive before the Covid-19 pandemic, are now relatively cheaper rather than Taipei becoming more expensive in absolute terms,” noted Quane. “Nonetheless, as locations in Taiwan will expect to receive more business travellers this year, their guests will find Taiwan to be more expensive relative to other comparable destinations in the region.”
Popular tourist destinations in South-east Asia saw relatively little change in travel expenses in 2022, with business travel costs rising only slightly over the last year in local currency terms.
“Cities like Pattaya and Chiang Mai in Thailand, alongside Denpasar in Indonesia, all witnessed small rates of growth in local currency terms in 2022, ranging between one and three per cent,” added Quane. “Hotel rates have been suppressed by low demand in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. Even a tourist hub like Bangkok, which typically receives many business travellers, only saw a moderate four per cent increase in business travel costs, leaving it well outside the top 100 most expensive business travel destinations last year.”
Elsewhere in Asia, inflation in many locations has contributed to significant increases in business travel costs in local currency terms even though business travel demand has not yet recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic. Costs have risen most in countries such as Sri Lanka, Laos, Pakistan and Kazakhstan but have actually fallen in some key cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
“Business travel expenses were over 75 per cent higher in local currency terms in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2022 in comparison to the year before”, advised Quane. “This is due to high inflation and currency depreciation since some costs associated with business travel, such as hotel costs, are incurred in US dollars by foreign business travellers here. At the other end of scale, the fall in costs for business travellers in China has been largely due to falling hotel costs associated with a drop in demand for business travel last year. In spite of this, Shanghai is nonetheless the fourth most expensive business travel destination in Asia.”
Globally, New York remains the most expensive location in the world for business travel, with the average daily cost of a business trip now standing at US$796.
“New York tops the rankings for yet another year as the cost associated with business travel rebounded strongly over the course of a year,” explained Quane. “A post-pandemic surge in demand for business travel and tourism to the Big Apple, along with inflation-driven price hikes on goods commonly consumed by business travellers, has all contributed to a stark eight per cent growth in business travel costs.”
Like New York, locations in the US continued to dominate this year’s global top 10 list, while Switzerland remained home to Europe’s two most expensive cities for business travel – Geneva and Zurich. Traditional business hubs London and Paris also retained their positions in this year’s rankings, with Luanda, Angola, rounding off the list as Africa’s most expensive city.
Updated annually, ECA’s Daily Rates reports provide average costs for hotel accommodation – which makes up the bulk of any daily allowance – as well as meals, drinks, laundry, taxi costs, and daily essentials.