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Business travel takes off in China
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About 53 percent of Chinese firms expect business travel costs to rise in the next year, as trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region grows, according to a survey released yesterday.


As China's business travel market develops, more local and foreign companies in the nation are increasing their travel and entertainment (T&E) budgets, the American Express report said.


Of the 230 local and foreign firms surveyed - each with over 100 employees in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou - more than 46 percent increased their T&E budgets this year, compared with last year's 28 percent.


"We are impressed by the strong growth momentum of business travel in China, and its rapid pace of developing into managed business travel," said Gregor Lochtie, vice-president and general manager of the China business travel unit of American Express.


"We saw from the survey that companies operating in China have paid more attention than before to look for opportunities to optimize and control their T&E expenses, an investment that can improve their bottom line," he said.


Business travel has become the second-largest controllable cost for companies after salaries, the survey said.


It also called for companies in China to take control of T&E spending using the nation's booming online travel websites like Ctrip and eLong.


The Internet is becoming a more important means of booking business trips beyond travel agencies due to its convenience, accessibility and fast response.


According to the report, 61 percent of those surveyed said they use online tools to book business travel, up from 37 percent in 2006.


As competition intensifies in the nation's travel sector, more companies are choosing to use more than one agency to book business trips.


According to the report, 21 percent of those surveyed use three or more travel agencies to find the best deal, compared with 8 percent shopping around in 2006.


(China Daily December 5, 2007)


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