Hong Kong remains the most expensive location in Asia for business travel

 Friday, March 24, 2023 


In spite of depressed demand for business travel to Hong Kong in 2022, it remained the most expensive location in the region and was the 16th most expensive location globally. This was one of the findings of the latest Daily Rates research published by ECA International, the world’s leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

The average business trip to Hong Kong costs an overall total of USD 520 per day. This is a small decrease of USD 4 from last year’s total.

“Hong Kong has always been one of the most expensive Asian locations to visit on business, and remains so”, said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “Business travel costs decreased in 2022, albeit slightly, due to low volumes of business travel demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a poorly performing economy.”

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. This information is used by companies to determine daily expense allowances for staff who undertake business travel.

Singapore is now the second most expensive location in the region and the average daily cost of a business trip, at USD 515, is now only slightly cheaper than Hong Kong.

“Singapore overtook Tokyo in 2022 to become the second most expensive city in Asia to visit for business”, said Quane. “Business travel in the city picked up earlier than most other regional locations. This increased demand contributed to rises in hotel accommodation costs, and costs associated with other daily essentials consumed by business travellers also increased at a faster rate than other locations in the region, propelling it to second place in the region and 19th place worldwide”.

Like Singapore, locations in Taiwan including Taipei and Hsinchu have risen in the rankings, with both locations entering the ranking of the ten 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.”

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 5% in Tokyo last year”, explained Quane. “However, the weaker yen means that with average costs of USD 424 per day, the average daily cost of business travel is almost 20% 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.”

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% 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.”

Global Highlights

New York remains the most expensive location in the world for business travel, with the average per diem cost of a business trip standing at USD 796.

“New York tops the rankings for yet another year as the cost associated with business travel has 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 has contributed to an increase in accommodation costs. Furthermore, rates of inflation for other goods commonly consumed by business travellers contributed to a growth of 8% in business travel costs.”

New York is not an outlier in the USA with four of the ten most expensive locations globally for business travel found here. Switzerland is home to Europe’s two most expensive cities for business travel, namely Geneva and Zurich and is followed by London, which is Europe’s third most expensive and the eighth most expensive globally. Luanda is Africa’s most expensive city and the ninth most expensive city globally.

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