GBTA expects China to surpass the US in business travel spending

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Business travel in Asia Pacific, led by a dominant China, outpaces the rest of the world, according to a newly released travel forecast by the GBTA Foundation.

gbta-logoOverall, the GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast, sponsored by Visa, Inc. expects global business travel spending to hit a record $1.18 trillion USD in 2014, a 6.9 percent growth over the previous year.

Driven by infrastructure investments, exports and service development, business travel spending in China has grown from $32 billion USD in 2000 to $225 billion USD in 2013, an average of 16.2 percent each year. By comparison, growth in business travel spending from the US has grown at an annual rate of just 1.1 percent since 2000.

business-travellerThe Global Annual Report & Forecast also shows that spending in the US and Western Europe will grow more slowly compared to Asia. Currently Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel spend market with 38 percent followed by North America (21 percent) and Western Europe (24 percent). GBTA expects that by 2018, Asia Pacific will have gained another 5 percent in market share, while the US and Western Europe will lose three percent and two percent, respectively.

The report’s other key findings include:

- 89 percent of total business spending around the world – totaling $984 billion USD – originated from traffic in Asia Pacific, Western Europe or North America.

- Even accounting for concerns over an economic slowdown in the country, GBTA expects China to surpass the US in business travel spending by 2016.

- Italy and Spain continue to slip in GBTA’s annual rankings of the top 15 countries by travel spend. In contrast, BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – continue to rise in the growth ranking, representing four of the top six countries in terms of business travel spending growth.

- Regionally, Asia Pacific is already the largest business travel region in the world, comprising 38 percent of global business travel. Business travel spending in Asia Pacific totaled $392 billion USD in 2013 – more than doubling in size since 2000 with a growth rate of 7.5 percent annually. GBTA expects business travel spending to continue growing at a 10.2 percent annual pace over the next five years.

Instability in Ukraine is currently the biggest impediment to business travel growth in Emerging Europe and poses a major risk to both the Russian and European economic outlook. An escalating Ukrainian crisis could push Europe and Russia into a recession.

Moreover, Russia – a country that has been on the rise in recent years in terms of business travel spending – could see plummeting business travel activity if the crisis continues. Sanctions from the West aimed at Russia's top officials, businessmen and a few banks are already taking their toll on the Russian economy. GBTA expects business travel spending in Russia will fall more than five percent in 2014.


The GBTA report identified the top 15 business travel markets, ranked by spending in 2013. The largest growth was seen in three of the BRIC countries - China (15.1 percent), India (10.4 percent) and Russia (8.7 percent).

Total Business Travel Spending:

Top 15 Markets – 2013


2013 Total BTS               ($ Billions USD)

Annual Growth in BTS (2013)

1. United States



2. China



3. Japan



4. Germany



5. UK



6. France



7. Brazil



8. South Korea



9. Italy



10. India



11. Russia



12. Canada



13. Australia



14. Netherlands



15. Spain



Grand Total



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