The Global Business Travel Association’s latest Business Travel Index noted that annual business travel spend in China grew from USD 32 billion in 2000 to around USD 347 billion in 2017, and is tipped to grow another 6.5% annually until 2022.
American Express, which created the first Sino-U.S. business travel joint-venture, CITS American Express Business Travel, in 2002, has notched up a number of firsts: introducing the first online booking tool in 2004, being one of the first travel management companies to bring consulting and advisory services to clients, launching an enhanced meetings and events solution, and the July launch of China’s first travel artificial intelligence chat robot, Xiaoton.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel established a joint venture with China Air Service to form Carlson Wagonlit Travel China in 2003. Today, Carlson Wagonlit Travel China has more than 700 employees across five offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Meishan, and Tianjin.
Australian-based global travel chain Flight Centre (FCTG) entered the Mainland China market in 2004 through a joint-venture with China Comfort. Over the next few years, FCTG increased its ownership stake to 95% and also set up a number of wholly-owned operations.
The fast-growing Corporate Travel Management also has big ambitions for China, evident in its July 2018 acquisition of Hong Kong-based Lotus Travel Group. Corporate Travel Management has been active in China for about five years, thanks to an earlier acquisition - Westminster Travel, one of the most established corporate travel businesses in the East Asian market.
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