Straits Times: S'pore is 'top business destination in Asia-Pacific'

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SINGAPORE has pulled ahead of Hong Kong as the top destination for business travellers across the Asia-Pacific for the first half of this year, a recent survey says.

Executives from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India ranked Singapore as the most visited destination, the second annual Accor Asia-Pacific Business Traveller Research has found.

The trend is set to continue for the rest of the year and underscores the Republic's appeal as the business gateway to South-east Asia, said Accor Asia-Pacific vice-president of communications Evan Lewis at a briefing here on Tuesday.

Last year, Singapore and Hong Kong tied for top honours in the survey. This year, Thailand has emerged as another key business destination. The top three destinations for Singapore-based executives are Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia while China is expected to displace Indonesia in the top three in the second half, said Mr Lewis.

The survey found that while business travel volumes in the region had increased at an average of 60 per cent, Singapore was the only market where travel volumes remained flat compared with the corresponding period last year.

"So, if business travel is a barometer of business sentiment, then business sentiment in Singapore is somewhat moderate in optimism," he said.

Singapore-based business travellers have some standout traits. They spend the most on a typical business trip - an average of US$468 (S$582) per trip, higher than the average spend of US$375. Indonesia-based travellers spend the least, at US$243 per trip.

Singapore-based executives have not only raised their budget for hotel stays over the six-month period, up 16 per cent from the previous corresponding period, but also generally spent more on accommodation. Their average spend per night is US$156, above the region's average of US$125.

Connectivity is top on the list for Singaporean business travellers - 63 per cent of respondents picked free Wi-Fi Internet as a key factor in hotel choice over factors such as location, loyalty card membership and price.

For business travellers across the region, the most important factors included location - the hotel needs to be near to where they do business - followed by Wi-Fi and competitive price.

The survey found that Singaporean executives are among the most hard-working, with 60 per cent saying they always or usually work while in the hotel, on a par with Hong Kong travellers and higher than the regional average of 56 per cent.

The survey involved 2,586 respondents - 448 of them residing in Singapore - from the region who made business trips in the first half of the year.

The report is aimed at better understanding the travel and behavioural preferences of business travellers in the region.