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China overtakes US as leader in business travel spend

China has overtaken the US as the number one business travel market globally, according to a report published by the GBTA Foundation.

The GBTA Business Travel Index shows China edged past the United States in total business travel spend at the end of last year.

In 2015, China had a total spend of $291.2 billion compared to $290.2 billion in the US.

The report predicts China will “soar ahead” in 2016 with business travel spend forecast to grow 10.1 per cent to $320.7 billion, compared to 1.9 per cent growth in the US to $295.7 billion.

“Despite a relative slowdown, China’s business travel market remains one of the fastest growing in the world,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “China surpassing the United States in business travel spending marks a major inflection point and truly demonstrates the global nature of today’s economy.”

The study found that despite the slowing Chinese economy, investment in travel infrastructure continues. A plan to open 82 new airports has been underway since 2011, with hoteliers also continuing to increase their presence in China.

More than 70 per cent of the hotel construction pipeline in Asia Pacific can be attributed to China.

“This is an exciting milestone for the travel industry,” said David Henstock, VP of global commercial solutions at Visa. “This highlights the need for consistent, integrated and truly global payment solutions for business travellers around the globe.” 

The GBTA Foundation is the education and research arm of the GBTA, with the study sponsored by Visa.

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