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The US business travel market has been overtaken by China as the largest in the world and is set to power further ahead in 2016.
A new report by the research arm of the Global Business Travel Association found that total business travel spend in China last year reached $291.2 billion against $290.2 billion in the US.
China is projected to soar ahead this year with business travel spend expected to grow by 10.1% to $320.7 billion, compared to 1.9% growth in the US to $295.7 billion.
However, the GBTA’s forecast of 9.8% total business travel spend growth in 2017 would mark the first year of this millennium that China’s growth rates are to drop below double digits.
GBTA executive director and chief operating officer, Michael McCormick, said: “Despite a relative slowdown, China’s business travel market remains one of the fastest growing in the world.
“China surpassing the United States in business travel spending marks a major inflection point and truly demonstrates the global nature of today’s economy.”
Business travel spend in China continues to be dominated by domestic trips, which comprises 95% of the total, according to the report.
“Pressure from slower economic expansion will keep a lid on the tremendous levels of domestic business travel growth seen in previous years, but growth of roughly 10 percent is still expected on an annual basis over 2016 and 2017,” the study added.
“Despite the slowing Chinese economy, investment in travel infrastructure continues in anticipation of better days ahead for both business and leisure travel.
“A plan to open 82 new airports has been underway since 2011 and hoteliers are also continuing to increase their presence in China. Over 70% of the hotel construction pipeline in Asia Pacific can be attributed to China.”
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