Despite its slowest growth in nearly 25 years, China is expected to surpass the United States in business travel spending in 2016. Estimates are that China business travel will increase approximately 11% to $322 billion, as compared to a 3.7% increase to $303 billion for the U.S.
Increased consumption among China’s middle class and the spread of regional domestic flights have pushed the country’s business travel market to encompass a fifth of all global corporate travel spending. Domestic travel contributes more than 95% to China’s total business travel spending. By 2019, Chinese business travel spending is predicted to increase by 61% to $420 billion.
“Ultimately, long-term growth possibilities for China in the business travel market are really almost underdeveloped, especially when you look at the international and domestic split,” Michael W. McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association, said by phone Wednesday. “As a country, the United States is so used to being number one in volume in every way. This is a significant milestone, and certainly a reflection of the changing global economic landscape.” After ten years of nearly even growth across the so-called BRIC nations, China and India have pulled ahead, with business travel projected to grow at double-digit rates over the next two years, while Russia and Brazil will both face negative growth.