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The price of business travel to Singapore continues to rise

Press Release   •   Apr 17, 2018 16:46 BST

- Singapore now the joint third most expensive location in Asia for a business trip

- Hong Kong is the most expensive location in Asia for business travel

- Malaysian cities continue to be the cheapest locations for business travel

Singapore is now the joint third most expensive Asian location 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.

The average cost of a business trip to Singapore has increased to USD 479 per day, compared with USD 472 in 2016.

“Although only a small increase, the rise in business travel costs in Singapore reflects a growing trend” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia for ECA International. “Hotel costs have risen slightly in the past 12 months but the main reason for Singapore’s rise has been the increased cost of eating out in restaurants frequented by business travellers in the city over the past year.”

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.

Hong Kong is the most expensive location for business travellers, overtaking Tokyo which drops to second in the rankings.

Quane said “Although Hong Kong has overtaken Tokyo in the rankings, this change is mostly due to the overall price of business travel in Japan decreasing in Dollar terms after the Yen fell in value over the course of 2017. The cost of business travel in Hong Kong has remained unchanged from last year with the typical business trip now costing USD 508 per day on average.”

Meanwhile, the cheapest region for international business travel continues to be Malaysia, with Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru remaining at the bottom of the rankings.

“The continued weakness of the Malaysian Ringgit against major currencies has ensured that the cost of business travel in Malaysia is cheaper than elsewhere in Asia,” adds Quane. “Although fellow ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and Cambodia have cities which rank amongst the cheapest in the region for business travel the cost of business, travel remains low in Malaysia with the cost of a business trip to Kuala Lumpur being less than half of what it is in Hong Kong.”

The Thai cities that were included in the survey all saw a slight increase in business travel costs, with Bangkok moving into the top 50 for the first time. The average business trip to Thailand’s capital now costs USD 278 a day.

Chinese cities have seen an increase in cost for a standard business trip, with Shanghai now ranked as the 9th most expensive location for business travel in the region.

Quane said “Chinese cities have become costlier for business travellers in the past 12 months. Increased prices of goods and services commonly consumed by business travellers has led to the rise of many Chinese cities in our rankings. However, despite the increase, Shanghai is still much cheaper than Hong Kong or Tokyo for business travel and is over USD 100 a day less expensive on average.” 

Global comparison

Although Singapore is one of Asia’s most expensive location for business travel, it ranks outside of the top 40 locations globally, significantly cheaper than first placed New York where the average business trip would cost a total of USD 793 per day.

Quane explained “New York tops the rankings as the most expensive location for business travel due to the high cost of hotels and travel, as well as mandatory 15-20% tipping policies during meals out. A high demand for hotels especially means rates can be charged at a premium and this is reflected in the average cost of a stay at a 4* hotel, which currently stands at a huge USD 509 per night.”

Second in the global rankings, and the most expensive European location for business travel, is Geneva where the average business trip would cost USD 720 per day.

Quane said “Swiss cities have always been expensive locations for business travel, and 2017 was no different as the Swiss Franc has continued to perform very strongly. On top of this, Switzerland has long been considered a major financial and banking hub and will remain so for the foreseeable future, meaning that business travel to Swiss locations will keep on being a necessity.”

Ten most expensive locations for business travel in Asia

Location 2017 ranking 2016 ranking
Hong Kong 1 2
Tokyo, Japan 2 1
Singapore =3 4
Seoul, South Korea =3 3
Busan, South Korea 5 8
Yokohama, Japan 6 6
Dhaka, Bangladesh 7 5
Kobe, Japan 8 7
Shanghai, China 9 13
Macau 10 10

Ten most expensive locations for business travel globally

Location 2017 ranking 2016 ranking
New York, USA 1 1
Geneva, Switzerland 2 2
Zurich, Switzerland 3 3
Luanda, Angola 4 4
Bridgetown, Barbados 5 5
Paris, France 6 10
Nassau, Bahamas 7 6
Washington DC, USA 8 7
Basel, Switzerland 9 12
Monaco 10 16


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 2017-18 are available for 375 locations in 192 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)
  • Meals
  • Laundry
  • 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.

    About ECA International (

    ECA International is the market leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

    Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

    We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions - every time.

    ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

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