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Business travel gets lift as more firms go global
The Global Business Travel Association is predicting that China will exceed the United States to become the world's largest business travel market by 2016.
The Global Business Travel Association, considered the world's premier business travel and meetings organization, is predicting that China will exceed the United States to become the world's largest business travel market by 2016. 
The US-based organization, which has 6,000 members and manages over $340 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually, said Chinese companies will generate $262 billion worth of business travel this year, a 15.9 percent rise on last year. 
The association, which claims a network of 17,000 business and government travel and meetings managers around the world, is also predicting that the annual growth in travel expenses by Chinese companies will grow another 18 percent in 2015, within its business travel index outlook for China, released on Nov 1.
The report, sponsored by US-based payment cards giant Visa Inc, said that after a few years of what it called tepid growth, China's international outbound travel is beginning to improve. 
"The unprecedented growth in China's economy has propelled the country's business travel market to represent roughly 20 percent of global business travel spending," said Welf J. Ebeling, regional director for GBTA Asia. 
Stanford Lin, head of products at Visa China, said: "Economic growth in China continues to provide great potential for an active business travel market. According to the latest International Monetary Fund report, China has overtaken the US to become the world's largest economy in terms of purchasing power. 
"In line with GBTA's report, we are seeing that China's business travel market continues to evolve in 2014, driven by fast-growing outbound travel." 
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that Chinese investors injected $43.34 billion into 3,224 overseas companies in the first half of 2014 and China's annual outbound investment is targeted to show year-on-year growth of 10 percent. 
Improving exports, stronger household consumption and stimulus-driven local government infrastructure spending are all promoting the business travel market, said the GBTA report. 
The methods of paying for business travel, meanwhile, are also changing, according to a separate study from Hogg Robinson Group Plc, the UK-based travel management company. 
Its China Travel Trends Report said more Chinese companies now opting to use online booking tools as well as company credit cards for business travel payment. 
"We have seen changes in every part of the business," said Yates Fei, general manager of Hogg Robinson China. 
The country's classic travel management model has evolved into the widespread deployment of online booking tools and invoice payment, Fei said, employing various credit platforms. 
One Shanghai travel agent, who preferred not to be named, said that she had certainly seen a healthy growth in business travel in recent months, despite a drop-off in government spending on travel. 
She said the agency had already taken strong business travel orders for next year, too, both domestic and overseas bookings.
  Source: China Daily USA

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