Singapore, China and Japan are the top business travel destinations in Asia Pacific

BCD Travel flight and rail data reveal the most frequented destinations by APAC business travelers with insights into how they travel

UTRECHT, The Netherlands, July 2, 2024 – According to BCD Travel’s Cities & Trends 2023 Asia Pacific Report, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok are the most visited cities in the region by APAC business travelers. The intercontinental list is led by Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam. The report is based on BCD flight and rail data from 2023 in a range of APAC markets1.

Top 10 cities

Singapore is clearly leading the way in APAC, reclaiming its status as a major meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions destination post-pandemic with robust government support. It has maintained its position as the primary financial hub in the region ahead of Hong Kong and now ranks as Asia’s top financial center and the third globally2. In 2023, Changi Airport recovered to about 86% of its pre-pandemic passenger volume, driven by a strong rebound in Northeast and Southeast Asia traffic, making Singapore an accessible and convenient destination for business.

2023 rankingAPACIntercontinental
2Hong KongLondon
4TokyoSan Francisco
5Kuala LumpurMunich
6ShanghaiNew York City
8TaipeiLos Angeles

“According to GBTA’s 2023 Business Travel Index™, the APAC region is set to play a significant role in global business travel spending this year, accounting for 42% of the total,” said Greg O’Neil, president of Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Global Network at BCD. “BCD leverages its advanced technology and industry expertise to help travelers and companies navigate the complexities of business travel in APAC, one of the most diverse regions. We support our corporate clients by keeping them informed of developments, advising on supplier negotiations, managing risks, and providing travelers with tools they enjoy using, ensuring they can travel confidently and effectively.”

Top 5 countries

Singapore was the most visited APAC country last year, followed by China. The recovery of international travel to and from China has lagged behind the rebound in the country’s domestic travel industry following the end of its zero-COVID policy. Domestic air travel is at 17% above 2019 levels, while international air travel is still recovering. Factors such as a shortage of flights, high ticket prices and administrative hurdles in obtaining visas have contributed to this slower recovery.

The United States is the most visited country globally, followed by Germany. This is not surprising considering that four American cities are among the top 10 intercontinental cities.

2023 rankingAPACIntercontinental
1SingaporeUnited States
3JapanUnited Kingdom
5Hong Kong SARFrance

Top 10 routes

The most frequently traveled routes3 for APAC flights primarily depart from Singapore, which accounts for four positions in the top 10 city pairs. Hong Kong follows with two city pairs in the top 10. The top 10 arrival hubs for APAC routes are predominantly in Southeast Asia and North Asia, with Singapore being the most popular destination.

For intercontinental routes, Bangalore to Frankfurt tops the chart. The most frequently traveled routes for intercontinental flights from APAC mainly depart from Tokyo and Singapore, together holding seven positions in the top 10 routes. The top 10 arrival hubs for intercontinental routes are largely dominated by European cities, with Frankfurt being the most popular.

2023 rankingAPACIntercontinental
1Kuala Lumpur – SingaporeBangalore – Frankfurt
2Singapore – Kuala LumpurShanghai – Frankfurt
3Bangkok – SingaporeSingapore – London
4Singapore – BangkokTokyo – Frankfurt
5Singapore – JakartaTokyo – New York City
6Singapore – Hong KongTokyo – San Francisco
7Hong Kong – SingaporeTokyo – London
8Jakarta – SingaporeSingapore – Amsterdam
9Shanghai – Hong KongShanghai – Munich
10Hong Kong – ShanghaiSingapore – Frankfurt

Rail travel

Rail travel is a popular choice for domestic business travel in China and Japan. Unlike air travel, which requires lengthy check-in and security processes, rail travel offers quicker boarding and deboarding, significantly reducing overall travel time especially for distances up to 1,200 km.

Train stations in both countries are typically located in city centers or business districts, providing easy access to key areas. Train tickets can also be more economical compared to airfares, especially when considering hidden costs such as transportation to and from airports and baggage fees.

2023 rankingChinaJapan
1Shanghai – BeijingTokyo – Osaka
2Changsha – ShenzhenOsaka – Tokyo
3Beijing – ShanghaiTokyo – Nagoya
4Shenzhen – ChangshaNagoya – Tokyo
5Shanghai – HangzhouOsaka – Nagoya
6Hangzhou – ShanghaiNagoya – Osaka
7Shanghai – SuzhouTokyo – Kyoto
8Yancheng – ShanghaiKyoto – Tokyo
9Wuhan – ChangshaYokohama – Nagoya
10Suzhou – ShanghaiNagoya – Yokohama

“Sustainability has become a top corporate priority, with travel buyers increasingly aware of business travel’s environmental impact,” said Jonathan Kao, managing director of North Asia at BCD. “Chinese companies lead in sustainability, favoring high-speed rail over air travel for its cost-effectiveness, efficiency and convenience, especially for distances between 800 and 1,200 km. As the rail network expands, it’s becoming more competitive with air travel.”

To support this shift, BCD Travel China offers Rail+, a solution that simplifies the booking, payment and expense reconciliation process for frequent train travelers, enhancing convenience and reducing administrative burdens. Rail+ is a central billing system specifically for rail travel, so when travelers book a train ticket via their OBT, they don’t need to pay for it individually. It also streamlines the reconciliation process, as all charges are automatically matched to the related rail ticket, thus saving finance and travelers’ time and resources.

The full Cities & Trends 2023 Asia Pacific Report with insights about APAC business travelers can be found here.

1: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and Singapore.

2: Source: The Global Financial Centres Index 34 (GFCI 34) that provides evaluations of future competitiveness and rankings for 121 financial centres around the world.
3: Top routes combine data of multiple airports for the following cities: London (Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City); Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly); New York City (John F. Kennedy, Newark and La Guardia); Shanghai (Pudong and Hongqiao) and Tokyo (Narita and Haneda).

About the report

Business travel can be a seismograph of economic growth. The rise and fall of business travel volumes reflect the level and health of economic activity within a region or country. BCD’s latest Cities & Trends 2023 Asia Pacific edition shows the top destinations for APAC business travelers with insights into how they travel. The findings are based on BCD flight and rail data from 2023 in a range of APAC markets. This report follows the recently published 2023 Europe edition and U.S. edition. The reports are produced annually.

About BCD Travel

BCD Travel helps companies travel smart and achieve more. We drive program adoption, cost savings and talent retention through digital experiences that simplify business travel. Our 15,000+ dedicated team members service clients in 170+ countries as we shape a sustainable future for business travel. BCD’s leading meetings and events management and global consultancy services complete our comprehensive suite of solutions for all aspects of corporate travel. In 2023, BCD achieved US$20.3 billion in sales. For more information, visit