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New York City and Amsterdam: Top Pick Cities for European Business Travelers

Meanwhile, London to New York City was the most popular intercontinental flight route for European business travelers last year

by Fergus Cole

March 27, 2024

Photo: New York City. Courtesy of Florian Wehde / Unsplash

A report by BCD Travel reveals that European business travelers prefer New York City as an intercontinental destination, while Amsterdam is the top pick for business travel within Europe.

The Cities & Trends 2023 Europe report collected flight and car rental data across several European markets last year to determine the cities and destinations that hosted the most significant number of business and corporate travelers.

According to the study, business travel in Europe has strongly recovered from the pandemic, with European expenditure in 2023 reaching 96 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Photo: New York City. Courtesy of Florian Wehde / Unsplash

However, some parts of the continent have had a much more rapid recovery than others, reflected in the top 10 destinations.

The top 10 European cities for business travel in 2023 were dominated by Western Europe, with parts of Eastern Europe still struggling with significant challenges, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Amsterdam was the most visited European destination for business travelers in the previous year, followed by London, which is served by five major airports.

One of the many terraces at Leidseplein, in the center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands / Photo: Harry Beugelink

Frankfurt, another financial hub, was the third most visited European city for business travelers, followed by Munich in fourth place and Paris in fifth.

European business travelers prefer U.S. cities for intercontinental travel, with New York City being the top destination, followed by Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

Top 10 destinations:

1AmsterdamNew York City
4MunichWashington, DC
5ParisSan Francisco
8ViennaLos Angeles

“While global business travel rebounds, the pace of recovery in China has been more gradual,” said Jonathan Kao, managing director of North Asia at BCD Travel. “Beijing has dropped off the list from its 2019 position as the eighth most visited intercontinental city for European business travelers, and Shanghai has fallen from second to 10th place.

“Despite this, we’re encouraged by the recent visa exemptions for travelers from certain European countries and, overall, more lenient visa procedures. We anticipate a significant resurgence in business travel to China in 2024, evidenced by the early increase in travel volumes we’ve seen in the first two months of 2024.”

Last year, the United States was the most popular intercontinental destination for European business travelers, which is unsurprising.

Meanwhile, Germany emerged as the most visited European country. According to BCD Travel, the United Kingdom has dropped to second place in Europe due to Brexit restrictions.

Top five countries:


“Risks like geopolitics and rising crime, new sustainability legislation, and remote work continue to impact business travel volumes and where travel budgets are directed to,” said Michèle Lawley, president of Europe at BCD Travel.

“Airline capacities once sufficient might become scarce. A destination once safe might have become dangerous for travelers. These are some examples of why travel programs quickly need to adjust to new circumstances.”

Top 10 long-haul flight routes:

RankFlight Route
1London to New York City
2Frankfurt to Chicago
3Frankfurt to New York City
4London to Los Angeles
5London to Chicago
6Frankfurt to Washington D.C.
7Frankfurt to San Francisco
8Frankfurt to Shanghai
9Amsterdam to Atlanta
10Paris to New York City

The report examined the preferred cabin class of business travelers. As expected, business class was the most popular choice, accounting for 47 percent of bookings last year. Economy class was the second most preferred option, chosen by 42 percent of travelers. Premium economy was selected by 10 percent of business travelers, while only 0.5 percent opted for first class.

“The chosen service class, type of flight, and even the route have a direct effect on CO2 emissions,” said Lawley. “For example, direct flights offer a shorter route and use less fuel on landing and take-off than connecting flights.

“By analyzing their emissions data, companies can hone in on what behaviors or policies they want to influence or change to support smart and purposeful travel.”