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Which Are the World’s Most Expensive Cities for Business Travelers?

With daily costs averaging $520, Hong Kong was the most expensive business travel destination in Asia last year, with New York City topping the list globally

by Fergus Cole

March 22, 2023

Photo: Business traveler in Frankfurt, Germany. Courtesy of Razvan Chisu / Unsplash

With travel to Asia rebounding following almost three years of strict COVID restrictions, Hong Kong may be best avoided for companies looking to save costs, as it has been revealed as the most expensive city on the continent for business travelers.

ECA International has released its annual Daily Rates report, which ranks business travel destinations worldwide based on how expensive they are. The company looked at a range of daily expenses that business travelers typically incur, including the cost of four-star hotel rooms, meals, drinks, laundry, and taxi trips, among others.

Photo: Hong Kong. Courtesy of Simon Zhu / Unsplash

And for the second year in a row, Hong Kong has been revealed as the most expensive destination in Asia for business travelers, with daily expenses averaging $520 in 2022.

This result was despite Hong Kong and China imposing some of the world’s most rigid COVID restrictions, resulting in low demand for business travel compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Hotel costs continue to make up a majority of the overall cost of business travel, and in spite of lower occupancy levels in 2022, advertised room rates [in Hong Kong] did not fall significantly,” said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International.

“This may have been due to demand from local residents, while hotel properties may also have needed to maintain their room rates to cover additional costs associated with maintaining services during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Singapore comes in second place

Last year’s second most expensive city in Asia for business travelers was Singapore, with costs averaging $515 per day. This was $34 more per day than in 2021, helping Singapore to overtake Tokyo as a more costly place to visit. Some of this rise was attributed to Singapore being quicker than many other Asian countries in removing restrictions.

Photo: Singapore. Courtesy of Swapnil Bapat / Unsplash

“Business travel to the city picked up earlier than most other locations in the region with the government’s comprehensive lifting of travel restrictions,” said Quane. “The resulting increase in demand contributed to rises in hotel accommodation costs, while costs associated with other daily essentials consumed by business travelers also increased at a faster rate than other locations in the region.”

Quane also said that, despite daily costs rising by an average of 5% in Tokyo last year, the falling value of Japan’s currency had helped it to slip down the rankings.

“Despite daily costs for business travelers to the city increasing in local currency terms over the past year, they were offset by the yen’s depreciation against the U.S. dollar, leading to the decline of several cities across Japan in this year’s rankings,” he said.

These were the ten most expensive Asian cities for business travelers in 2022:

Ranking City Average daily cost
1 Hong Kong $520
2 Singapore $515
3 Tokyo $424
4 Shanghai $392
5 Seoul $380
6 Dhaka $376
7 Taipei $372
8 Beijing $371
9 Yokohama $350
10 Hsinchu $349

But New York Remains Unbeatable

Even though Hong Kong topped the list in Asia, the world’s most expensive cities for business travelers are in the U.S. and Europe.

According to the list, the world’s most expensive business travel destination in 2022 was New York City, with daily costs averaging $796—around 53% higher than Hong Kong, which didn’t even make the top-10 list.

New York City / Photo: Triston Dunn/Unsplash

“New York tops the rankings for yet another year as the cost associated with business travel rebounded strongly over the course of a year,” said Quane. “A post-pandemic surge in demand for business travel and tourism to the Big Apple, along with inflation-driven price hikes on goods commonly consumed by business travelers, has all contributed to a stark 8% growth in business travel costs.”

These were the ten most expensive cities in the world for business travelers last year:

Ranking City Average daily cost
1 New York $796
2 Geneva $700
3 Washington DC $658
4 Zurich $641
5 San Francisco $609
6 Tel Aviv $595
7 Los Angeles $584
8 London $583
9 Luanda $564
10 Paris $557