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Singapore overtakes Tokyo to rank second-most expensive MICE destination in Asia

Singapore overtakes Tokyo to rank second-most expensive MICE destination in Asia


With the cost of daily essentials used by business travellers increasing at a faster rate than elsewhere in the region, the city-state came second only behind Hong Kong.

Singapore has been ranked the second most expensive location in the region for business travel — according to the latest Daily Rates research by ECA International, the average business trip to Singapore now costs US$515 per day, an increase of US$34 from the year before. 

As a whole, Singapore overtook Tokyo in 2022 to become the second-most expensive city in Asia to visit for business, and stands in the 19th spot worldwide.

Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International, attributed this move to the pick-up in business travel to the city, taking place earlier than most other locations in the region. He elaborated: "The resulting increase in demand contributed to rises in hotel accommodation costs, while costs associated with other daily essentials consumed by business travellers also increased at a faster rate than other locations in the region."

Overall, the top 10 most expensive locations for business travel in Asia, according to the research, are:

1st: Hong Kong (Globally: 16th)
2nd: Singapore (Globally: 19th)
3rd: Tokyo, Japan (Globally: 37th)
4th: Shanghai, China (Globally: 50th)
5th: Seoul, South Korea: (Globally: 57th)
6th: Dhaka, Bangladesh (Globally: 59th)
7th: Taipei, Taiwan (Globally: 62nd)
8th: Beijing, China (Globally: 66th)
9th: Yokohama, Japan (Globally: 87th)
10th: Hsinchu, Taiwan (Globally: 90th)

Globally, the top 10 are as follows:

1st: New York, US
2nd: Geneva, Switzerland
3rd: Washington DC, US
4th: Zurich, Switzerland
5th: San Francisco, US
6th: Tel Aviv, Israel
7th: Los Angeles, US
8th: London, UK
9th: Luanda, Angola
10th: Paris, France

The reports further provided the average costs for hotel accommodation – which makes up the bulk of any daily allowance – as well as meals, drinks, laundry, taxi costs, and daily essentials. 

What made Hong Kong take the top spot?

Hong Kong retained its spot as the most expensive location in the region for business travellers, coming in 16th globally. This comes in spite of "depressed demand" for business travel to the city in 2022, the research noted.  “Business travel costs decreased in 2022, albeit slightly, due to low volumes of business travel demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a poorly performing economy," Quane observed.

As further shared, the average business trip to Hong Kong costs an overall total of US$520 per day, a slight decrease from last year's total (US$524).

Key Asia findings

While daily costs of business travel to Singapore increased by 10% in local currency terms, this rate of growth was not as high as seen in some locations in the region. Growing inflation rates in many locations have contributed to significant increases in business travel costs in local currency terms, with costs rising the most in countries such as Sri Lanka, Laos, and Pakistan. 

For example, business travel expenses were more 75% higher (in local currency terms) than the year before in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2022, primarily stemming from high inflation and currency depreciation.

However, the inverse was noted in key cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Per the findings, the drop in costs for business travellers in China has been largely due to declining hotel costs associated with the drop in demand for business travel last year. Despite this, Shanghai has still risen to become the fourth most expensive business travel destination in Asia, the research found.

Meanwhile, while daily costs for business travellers to Taiwan increased over the past year, this was offset by the yen’s depreciation against the US dollar – a factor that also drove the decline of several cities across Japan in this year’s rankings. In local currency terms, business travellers’ costs rose by over 5% in Tokyo last year.  However, with the declining yen, the average daily cost of US$424 per day, business travel to the city is now almost 20% cheaper than first-placed Hong Kong. As a result, Tokyo fell out of the top 30 most expensive cities for business travel globally, with other Japanese locations experiencing similar drops in the past year.

Within ASEAN, the research noted "relatively little change in travel expenses" in popular tourist destinations in 2022, with business travel costs rising only slightly over the last year in local currency terms. Cities such as Pattaya and Chiang Mai in Thailand, alongside Denpasar in Indonesia, all witnessed small rates of growth in local currency terms in 2022, ranging between 1% and 3%.

Quane explained: “Hotel rates have been suppressed by low demand in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. Even a tourist hub like Bangkok, which typically receives many business travellers, only saw a moderate 4% increase in business travel costs, leaving it well outside the top 100 most expensive business travel destinations last year.”

Lead image / Shutterstock 

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