China is set to surpass the United States in business travel spending by 2016, according to estimates compiled by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.
The findings indicate that corporate expenditure in China on international and domestic travel will increase 11 percent to $322 billion in 2016, exceeding U.S. travel spending of $303 billion. Business travel spending in China is expected to climb further by 61 percent to $420 billion in 2019.
This rise could be linked to increased consumption among China’s middle class and the spread of regional domestic flights, which have allowed the country’s business travel market to take over a fifth of global corporate travel spending.
The news comes as China faces its slowest economic growth in nearly 25 years, the devaluation of its currency, and the aftermath of a stock market rout.
“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,” said Michael W. McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association, during an interview with Bloomberg News. “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.”
In the U.S., expenditures for corporate trips will increase 3.7 percent in 2016 as companies become more selective in authorizing business travel abroad, according to the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.