China to Become Top Business Travel Market by 2015, GBTA Predicts

If a new report is to be believed: Meeting planners and destinations should be keeping a close eye on China, which could provide more meeting attendees — both within China and outside it — in the near future.

The report, “GBTA BTI Outlook – China,” was published today by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). In it, GBTA predicts that China will surpass the United States as the world’s No. 1 business travel market as early as 2015.

Specifically, GBTA projects that China’s total business travel spend will grow 16.5 percent in 2014, more than double the rate of China’s GDP growth, which was 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. In 2015, GBTA says, the pace of growth will pick up, with total business travel spend increasing 17.8 percent to $309 billion.

Although growth is driven by both domestic and international outbound travel, the former is the main driver, making up nearly 95 percent of spending on Chinese business travel.

“The growth in China’s economy has been unprecedented, propelling the country’s business travel market to the second largest market in the world driven by real spending gains from rising business travel demand in both transient and group meetings and events,” Welf J. Ebeling, regional director for GBTA Asia, said in a statement. “Even facing headwinds as of late due to restrictions on spending in the public sector, domestic business travel spending continues to grow, and international outbound also shows some promising signs of growth thanks to China’s improving export performance and improved economic performance among China’s key trading partners — the U.S. and Europe.”

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