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Singapore rises to become fourth most expensive location for business travel in Asia Pacific

  • Average cost of a business trip to Singapore is eight per cent cheaper than in Hong Kong 
  • Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok amongst the cheapest locations for business travel in the region
  • Tokyo rises to top Asia Pacific regional rankings this year

Singapore is the fourth most expensive location in the Asia Pacific region for business travel. This was one of the findings of the latest Daily Rates research published by ECA International, the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

Singapore has risen one place from fifth position in last year’s regional rankings.

“Costs associated with accommodation for business travellers have risen in Singapore in the past year and are amongst the highest out of the locations we surveyed in the region,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia for ECA International. “Although rates for four-star hotel accommodation are still approximately 16 per cent lower than comparable accommodation in the most expensive location, Tokyo.”

Updated annually, ECA’s Daily Rates reports provide average costs for hotel accommodation, which makes up the bulk of any daily allowance, as well as meals, drinks, laundry, taxi transport and daily essentials. This information is used by companies to determine daily expense allowances for staff who undertake business travel.

The total cost of a typical business trip to Singapore, excluding travel to and from the city, is USD 472 per day on average.

“Costs commonly incurred during the course of business trips include accommodation, transport, meals and day-to-day necessities,” advised Quane. “Looking at four-star hotel accommodation, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul all have higher rates than Singapore. We have seen that the total costs incurred by a business traveller in the region are highest in Tokyo.”

Singapore’s regional rival, Hong Kong, has secured second position in this year’s regional rankings. While the cost of a typical meal out and incidental expenditure is more expensive in Singapore, higher costs associated with hotel accommodation in the SAR (13 per cent higher) contribute to its ranking as the second-most expensive location in Asia Pacific to undertake a business trip.

The cheapest location in the Asia Pacific region for business travel is Johor Bahru. Kuala Lumpur is the only capital city ranked within the top-ten cheapest locations for business travel in Asia. “Hotel accommodation rates have been depressed in the past 12 months owing to the impact of the fall in oil and gas prices on the Malaysian economy and subsequent reduction in business travel to and within the country,” said Quane. “This has been further accentuated by the continued depreciation of MYR versus USD to leave business-travel costs in Malaysia low in comparison to elsewhere in the region.”

Shanghai has fallen in this year’s regional rankings to 15th position. The Chinese yuan has depreciated against the US dollar over the past year contributing to Shanghai’s cheaper rates in USD terms. Beijing follows in 25th position with rates seven per cent lower than Shanghai, largely due to average four-star hotel rates in Shanghai being significantly higher than in Beijing. However, hotel rates in Shanghai are still 32 per cent cheaper than Hong Kong’s.

Business travel – excluding hotel costs

When hotel costs are excluded, the most expensive locations in Asia for business travellers are slightly different. Singapore falls to seventh in the regional ranking.

Tokyo is still the most expensive location in Asia Pacific even when hotel costs are excluded. Seoul rises one place to the second most expensive location in Asia Pacific for business travellers, followed by Yokohama, Sydney, Hong Kong, Kobe and Singapore.

“Unsurprisingly, Tokyo retains its status as the most expensive business travel destination even when hotel costs are excluded,” said Quane. “When we look at costs associated with a business traveller’s other expenses such as meals, transport and incidental expenditure, Singapore is cheaper than many locations including Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney.”

Shanghai is ranked 16th in the region, Macau 20th, Beijing 21st and Taipei 28th based on non-hotel business-travel costs. Kuala Lumpur comes in at 66th place.

The cheapest locations in the region for business travellers, once hotel costs are excluded, are Bishkek, Johor Bahru and Ulaanbaatar.

“Companies have different ways to ensure costs incurred by employees during business trips are covered, whether by reimbursement or provision of daily allowances to meet such expenditure,” advised Quane. “As we have seen over the past 12 months, with Tokyo overtaking Hong Kong as the most expensive location and Singapore rising in our rankings, it’s important companies review allowances or reimbursement rates for travelling employees regularly to make sure they are neither under- nor over-compensating for business trips.”

About ECA's Daily Rates

ECA's Daily Rates for business travellers help organisations to anticipate the cost of business trips and short-term assignments. Globally, the Daily Rates reports for 2016-17 are available for 350 locations in 191 countries.

Each report itemises costs for the following expenses for flexibility when calculating allowances for short trips abroad:

Hotel room (3, 4 and 5 star)
Alcoholic and soft drinks
Incidental costs
Journeys by taxi

PLEASE NOTE - 4* hotel accommodation was used as the point of comparison for hotel accommodation costs in these rankings as it best represents the typical level of accommodation used by business travellers.

To find out more about ECA's Daily Rates packages, further reading material can be found on the ECA website here

Follow ECA on twitter: @ECAintl

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