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Singapore, China and Japan are the top business travel destinations in Asia Pacific

BCD Travel Cities and Trends Asia Pacific

BCD Travel flight and rail data reveal the most frequented destinations by APAC business travelers with insights into how they travel.

UTRECHT, The Netherlands – According to BCD Travel’s Cities & Trends 2023 Asia Pacific Report, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok are the most visited cities in the region by APAC business travelers. The intercontinental list is led by Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam. The report is based on BCD flight and rail data from 2023 in a range of APAC markets1.

Top 10 cities

Singapore is clearly leading the way in APAC, reclaiming its status as a major meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions destination post-pandemic with robust government support. It has maintained its position as the primary financial hub in the region ahead of Hong Kong and now ranks as Asia’s top financial center and the third globally2. In 2023, Changi Airport recovered to about 86% of its pre-pandemic passenger volume, driven by a strong rebound in Northeast and Southeast Asia traffic, making Singapore an accessible and convenient destination for business.

2023 ranking APAC Intercontinental
1 Singapore Frankfurt
2 Hong Kong London
3 Bangkok Amsterdam
4 Tokyo San Francisco
5 Kuala Lumpur Munich
6 Shanghai New York City
7 Seoul Paris
8 Taipei Los Angeles
9 Jakarta Stuttgart
10 Manila Chicago

Greg-ONeil“According to GBTA’s 2023 Business Travel Index, the APAC region is set to play a significant role in global business travel spending this year, accounting for 42% of the total,” said Greg O’Neil, president of Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Global Network at BCD. “BCD leverages its advanced technology and industry expertise to help travelers and companies navigate the complexities of business travel in APAC, one of the most diverse regions. We support our corporate clients by keeping them informed of developments, advising on supplier negotiations, managing risks, and providing travelers with tools they enjoy using, ensuring they can travel confidently and effectively.”

Top 5 countries

Singapore was the most visited APAC country last year, followed by China. The recovery of international travel to and from China has lagged behind the rebound in the country’s domestic travel industry following the end of its zero-COVID policy. Domestic air travel is at 17% above 2019 levels, while international air travel is still recovering. Factors such as a shortage of flights, high ticket prices and administrative hurdles in obtaining visas have contributed to this slower recovery.

The United States is the most visited country globally, followed by Germany. This is not surprising considering that four American cities are among the top 10 intercontinental cities.

2023 ranking APAC Intercontinental
1 Singapore United States
2 China Germany
3 Japan United Kingdom
4 Thailand Netherlands
5 Hong Kong SAR France
Top 10 routes

The most frequently traveled routes3 for APAC flights primarily depart from Singapore, which accounts for four positions in the top 10 city pairs. Hong Kong follows with two city pairs in the top 10. The top 10 arrival hubs for APAC routes are predominantly in Southeast Asia and North Asia, with Singapore being the most popular destination.

For intercontinental routes, Bangalore to Frankfurt tops the chart. The most frequently traveled routes for intercontinental flights from APAC mainly depart from Tokyo and Singapore, together holding seven positions in the top 10 routes. The top 10 arrival hubs for intercontinental routes are largely dominated by European cities, with Frankfurt being the most popular.

2023 ranking APAC Intercontinental
1 Kuala Lumpur – Singapore Bangalore – Frankfurt
2 Singapore – Kuala Lumpur Shanghai – Frankfurt
3 Bangkok – Singapore Singapore – London
4 Singapore – Bangkok Tokyo – Frankfurt
5 Singapore – Jakarta Tokyo – New York City
6 Singapore – Hong Kong Tokyo – San Francisco
7 Hong Kong – Singapore Tokyo – London
8 Jakarta – Singapore Singapore – Amsterdam
9 Shanghai – Hong Kong Shanghai – Munich
10 Hong Kong – Shanghai Singapore – Frankfurt
Rail travel

Rail travel is a popular choice for domestic business travel in China and Japan. Unlike air travel, which requires lengthy check-in and security processes, rail travel offers quicker boarding and deboarding, significantly reducing overall travel time especially for distances up to 1,200 km.

Train stations in both countries are typically located in city centers or business districts, providing easy access to key areas. Train tickets can also be more economical compared to airfares, especially when considering hidden costs such as transportation to and from airports and baggage fees.

2023 ranking China Japan
1 Shanghai – Beijing Tokyo – Osaka
2 Changsha – Shenzhen Osaka – Tokyo
3 Beijing – Shanghai Tokyo – Nagoya
4 Shenzhen – Changsha Nagoya – Tokyo
5 Shanghai – Hangzhou Osaka – Nagoya
6 Hangzhou – Shanghai Nagoya – Osaka
7 Shanghai – Suzhou Tokyo – Kyoto
8 Yancheng – Shanghai Kyoto – Tokyo
9 Wuhan – Changsha Yokohama – Nagoya
10 Suzhou – Shanghai Nagoya – Yokohama

Jonathan-Kao“Sustainability has become a top corporate priority, with travel buyers increasingly aware of business travel’s environmental impact,” said Jonathan Kao, managing director of North Asia at BCD. “Chinese companies lead in sustainability, favoring high-speed rail over air travel for its cost-effectiveness, efficiency and convenience, especially for distances between 800 and 1,200 km. As the rail network expands, it’s becoming more competitive with air travel.”

 

Notes:
1: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and Singapore.

2: Source: The Global Financial Centres Index 34 (GFCI 34) that provides evaluations of future competitiveness and rankings for 121 financial centres around the world.

3: Top routes combine data of multiple airports for the following cities: London (Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City); Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly); New York City (John F. Kennedy, Newark and La Guardia); Shanghai (Pudong and Hongqiao) and Tokyo (Narita and Haneda).

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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