China’s Business Travel Spending Growth is Slowing But Still Significant

Skift Take

China is already the world’s largest business travel market and getting even larger, though most of that travel takes place within the country. We’re interested to see how the global industry adapts when more of those business trips are international.

— Hannah Sampson

Business travel is booming in China — but the boom is slowing down a bit.

According to a forecast out this week from the Global Business Travel Association’s education and research arm, business travel spending in China is expected to grow 9.2 percent this year to nearly $318 billion.

Next year, spending is forecast to increase by 8.4 percent to reach $344.6 billion. While  still robust, those increases are lower than the market saw in 2015, when spending grew by 11.4 percent.

The forecast was a slight downgrade from the previous outlook, the third period in a row that the forecast has been lowered as the economy’s expansion cools.

“While the projected growth rates are relatively slow for China, they still represent tremendous growth,” Michael McCormick, executive director and chief operating officer of GBTA, said in a statement. “We expect longer-term spending growth to continue to moderate until Chinese policymakers can achieve their goal of rebalancing the economy and diverting resources away from investment and towards consumption.”

China became the world’s largest business travel market last year, when spending topped that of the U.S. by $7 billion. Next year, business travel spending in in the U.S. is only expected to reach about $293 billion, $51.5 billion lower than the total in China.

Business travelers in China are spending the bulk of their money on trips within the country according to the report; domestic business travel makes up more than 95 percent of spending.

“The growth in China’s international outbound market has been outpaced by its domestic market over the last five years,” the report says. “The differential has mainly been driven by lower volumes of business travel to Europe and the United States and, over the last year or two, slowing volume growth to emerging markets, particulary Brazil and India.”

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