Business continues to stretch its wings

Updated: 2011-11-08 17:45

By Yan Yiqi and Wang Chao (

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SHANGHAI - Travel budgets have continued to rise as businesses push to improve client/partner relationships and to develop new business, the annual China Business Travel Barometer survey published on Tuesday shows.

"We are very optimistic about the future of the business travel market in China,” said Marco Pellizzer, vice-president of American Express and general manager of CITS American Express Global Business Travel.

China has enjoyed significant growth in GDP since 2002 and is on its way to overtake the US as the largest business travel market in the world by 2015, according to figures from Vantage Strategy and the Global Business Travel Association Foundation. The central government’s 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015) focuses on improving the quality of transport infrastructure, which will result in increased competition and more opportunities for businesses to maximize their travel spending.

Two hundred and eighty-six executives, 211 of them from Chinese-owned organizations took part in the survey. The organizations, in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, have 100 or more employees.

The survey indicates that $72 out of every $100 in travel and entertainment spending in China is invested in growing and sustaining business. The barometer also shows that since 2008 there has been a focus on domestic travel, and costs in that category have continued to rise.

Respondents revealed that spending on air travel had remained stable, on average representing 28 percent of total travel and entertainment spending. Non-air travel spending has grown steadily over the past three years, rising 9 percent. Rail transport now accounts for 7 percent of companies’ total spending. Spending on hotel accommodation has grown 6 percent since 2009, and represents 19 percent of total travel and entertainment costs.

Meetings, incentive, conference and event budgets have also increased for many organizations, indicating that face-to-face meetings remain an important aspect of doing business in China. About 30 percent of the Chinese-owned companies said they are more likely to have four or more meetings, incentive, conference or event activities a year, compared with 16 percent for non-Chinese companies.