BUSINESS TRAVEL

Hong Kong leaps six spots to become most expensive city in Asia-Pacific for business travel, survey finds

Weakening renminbi and yen against US dollar contribute to top ranking

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 5:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 10:01pm

Soaring hotel room rates and a strong currency have catapulted Hong Kong six places in the last year to become the region’s most expensive destination for business travellers, according to a human resources consultancy firm.

Hong Kong’s steep property prices and relatively low supply of business-class hotel rooms led the city to the top spot in Asia Pacific in an annual survey by ECA International. Dhaka came second, followed by Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Busan and Macau.

Experts warned more competitive hotel rates offered to business travellers throughout the region – including the mainland, Japan and Malaysia – would hinder Hong Kong’s aspirations as a convention and trade fair hub.

ECA regional director Lee Quane said high real estate costs in Hong Kong were “a fact of life”.

Unlike Macau, he said, Hong Kong was unlikely to become “a trade fair or convention hub”.

The weakening yen and renminbi against the US dollar has accentuated the gap
Lee Quane, ECA International

A four-star hotel in Hong Kong goes for US$300 a night, which is the second-highest hotel rate in the region, Quane said. He explained a low supply of suitable rooms for business travellers enabled hoteliers to push up prices.

A strong Hong Kong dollar, pegged to the greenback, made the expensive city even less competitive than before, he added.

“The weakening yen and renminbi against the US dollar has accentuated the gap,” he said.

But Brian King, an associate dean of hotel and tourism management at Polytechnic University, disagreed with Quane.

King said average room rates in Hong Kong in fact dropped by 6 per cent between 2014 and last year, according to government statistics.

King also thought the US$300-per-night rate cited in the survey was too high and described the findings as “surprising” and “counter-intuitive”. He added the city was predicted to be more affordable next year for business travellers.

Last year, the firm identified Busan, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Perth and Hong Kong as the most expensive cities in Asia Pacific.