People walk in the Central district of Hong Kong, July 25, 2017. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong has overtaken Tokyo and returned to top spot as the most expensive city in Asia for business travelers following a plunge in the Japanese yen, a survey of costs for last year published by human resources consultancy ECA International on Tuesday showed.
The change is mostly due to the overall price of business travel in Japan decreasing in US dollar terms after Japanese yen fell in value over the course of 2017
Lee Quane, Regional Director, Asia at ECA International
Daily average expenses in Hong Kong – including hotels, meals, transport and incidentals – remained at US$508 last year. Costs in Tokyo fell to US$501 per day, down from US$537 in 2016.
Lee Quane, regional director, Asia at ECA International, attributed Hong Kong’s rise to a weak yen. Costs are quoted in local currency but rankings are based on prices converted into US dollars.
“The change is mostly due to the overall price of business travel in Japan decreasing in US dollar terms after Japanese yen fell in value over the course of 2017,” he explained.
However, the Hong Kong dollar has weakened against the US unit recently while the yen is stronger. Quane reckoned it was hard to tell how currency moves will impact rankings for this year.
“What we could see is when the Japanese yen is strengthening, if prices in Japan remain unchanged, but prices continue to rise in Hong Kong, then Hong Kong could still be No 1,” he said.
Among prices for major items, hotel accommodation costs comprise the bulk of the daily allowance. In Hong Kong, a room at a four-star hotel – representing typical business-traveler accommodation – remained at US$284 a day. Costs of meals and drinks rose, pushing up overall expenses in the city.
Chinese mainland cities rose in the rankings, with Shanghai – the only mainland city ranked in Top 10 – sitting at nine.
“Despite the increase, Shanghai is still much cheaper than Hong Kong or Tokyo for business travel and is over US$100 a day less expensive on average,” Quane added.
Worldwide Hong Kong ranked No 29 – much cheaper than first-placed New York where average business-trip costs reached US$793 per day.
The annual research report covers 375 locations worldwide including 100 destinations in Asia. Clients use the results to determine daily expense allowances for employees when they undertake business trips.