If you like new hotels, shiny airplanes, fast trains, freshly paved roads and modern, efficient airports, set your sights on India or China — two countries that seem to be emerging as centres of the business travel universe.
week, ANA launched the long-awaited first commercial flight of the Boeing 787
Dreamliner on the busy route between Tokyo and Hong Kong, a city that is expected to see a 12%
increase in business
travellers by the end of 2011. In the same week, Lufthansa announced
it would deploy the first upgraded 747s -- with a first
class configuration that includes a bed and
a seat -- on flights from Frankfurt to Mumbai and Delhi. Emirates, which saw
its revenue from India grow by 24% in 2010, now flies to ten
Indian cities from its hub in nearby Dubai.
companies are also jumping into China and India’s rapidly expanding markets. In
2010, there were nearly 1,000 hotels under construction across China — with 450
to open this year and another 290 in 2012 according to the Institute
of Hospitality. India will see 88 new hotels by the end of 2011 and 91 in
2012. Raymond Bickson, CEO of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, India’s largest
hotel company, said he has opened a new hotel every six weeks since joining the
company in 2003. In October, MGM Hospitality announced that it intends
to build three giant Las Vegas-style hotels — an MGM Grand, a Bellagio and a
Skylofts hotel -- in Mumbai.
importance to hotel companies is the rapidly rising number of affluent Indian
and Chinese travellers venturing
beyond their borders. Starwood and Hilton recently launched new efforts to
appeal to Chinese guests by expanding
breakfast menus to include items like fried bread and congee, and hiring more
Chinese-speaking staff. According to a
recent study commissioned by Hilton Hotels and Resorts, the total number of
outbound Chinese tourists reached 57 million in 2010, an increase of more than
20% from 2009.
At the Paris
Air Show last June, the five-year-old IndiGo, India’s largest low-fare carrier,
placed an order with Airbus for 180 new planes valued at $15.6 billion, which
at the time was considered the largest aircraft order in history. China’s airlines are expected to order
than 2,000 aircraft over the next five years.
September, news leaked that China has started construction of Beijing’s
third major airport in nearby Daxing — just three years after christening
the humongous Beijing Capital International Airport (which also includes the
world’s largest airport terminal building). When the new airport opens in 2015,
it’s expected to handle about 150 million passengers annually, beating the number
one ranked Atlanta, which currently handles about 90 million passengers each
year, according to the Airports Council International.
to the Center for Aviation, weekly flight frequencies between
Mumbai and Delhi have increased 383% since 1995. Frequencies between Shenzhen
(near Hong Kong) and Beijing are up 383% for the same period; between Shenzhen
and Shanghai, frequencies are up an astounding 1,064%.
about to complete the first phase of a massive $7 billion national highway project that connects the country’s four
major cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Despite recent hiccups, China
now operates the world’s largest network of high-speed trains, with more than 6,000km
in operation, compared to Spain, which has the second largest network with
2,600km of track.
To keep up with the skyrocketing demand for both domestic
and international flights, Indian airports are getting a major makeover. While
the revamp of Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport is still in the
works, airports in key business travel cities such as Bangalore, Delhi and
Hyderabad are all brand new, state-of the-art facilities that have opened in
the last three years.
“The economic conditions in China and India are helping to
drive business opportunities and thus generating business travel activity
because companies want to get their people where the business opportunities
are,” said Christa Degnan Manning director of research for American Express
Global Business Travel. According to the 2012 American Express Business Travel
Forecast, the demand in these countries is also leading
to higher prices and fuelling new competition among travel suppliers.
Have you travelled
to India or China recently? Do you think it’s becoming the centre of the
business travel universe? Please leave your comments on our Facebook page.
Chris McGinnis is the business
travel columnist for BBC Travel