China to overtake U.S. as world's top business travel destination
China's travel business tycoons will be rubbing their hands in glee over the findings of a new industry report.
China will beat out the United States to top the business travel market as early as 2013, according to a report by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), a business travel and corporate meetings organization based out of the U.S. state of Virginia.
The organization predicts that business travel spending in China will increase by 17 percent this year and 21 percent in 2013, bringing spending to US$202 billion and US$245 billion respectively.
Business travel spending in the United States is expected to reach US$233 billion by 2013.
"We forecast significant increases in business travel by Chinese citizens over the next two years with at least two-thirds of the growth being real increases in trips and spending as opposed to rising travel prices," said GBTA executive director Michael W. McCormick in a press statement.
The four largest airports in China -- Beijing, Shanghai-Pudong, Guangzhou and Shanghai-Hongqiao -- have doubled in size, and more than 100 new hotels are being planned.
International hotel groups are also brushing up strategies to woo Chinese business travelers. Both Accor and InterContinental Hotels Group have announced the launch of China-centric hotel brands to secure a foothold in the Chinese business market.
The GBTA report underlines China's increasing influence in global travel and business.
COMAC, China's largest aircraft manufacturer, recently caused consternation at Heathrow airport when it decided to opt for Paris, and not London, as its new European headquarters.
"I've been flying on China's domestic flights for the past few years and I've found that the airline and airport services in China are much better than before," said Tammy Lee, director of a Seoul-based real estate development company who travels to China twice a month and to the United States once a year.
"Food served on the airlines is much improved, and I think service on Chinese airlines is much better than those on American airlines," said Lee. "That also goes for hotels. It's getting harder to book hotels in Beijing and Shanghai."
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