Sydney number-one business destination as travel surges

Business travel in Australia has jumped by 41 per cent in 2023, with Sydney retaining its ranking as the number-one destination.

According to data from FCM – Flight Centre Travel Group’s large-market corporate division – the first 11 months of 2023 have seen big business travel rise by 41 per cent with multiple industries upping their bookings.

Leading the surge are mining, oil and gas sectors; government and not-for-profit sectors; and education sectors, based on year-on-year growth.

Sydney is the top destination of choice for domestic business travel, followed by Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Hedland and Adelaide.

Internationally, Port Moresby is the most booked destination from Australia – largely due to the mining, oil and gas sectors – followed by Auckland, Singapore and London.

“We’re beyond saying travel is simply back,” says Melissa Elf, global COO, FCM, and Flight Centre corporate managing director for ANZ.

“Business travel is clearly thriving with multiple industries dramatically increasing their booking numbers versus the same months last year.

“What we can see from our data is there is no part of Australia untouched by the need or requirement of business travel. Whether it be a mining site in Western Australia, an event or conference in Sydney, education in Melbourne, or the need to visit a construction site in Queensland, the appetite for travel is there.”

A 104 per cent rise year-on-year in business travel in the education sector is especially encouraging.

“These figures cement Australia as a destination of choice when it comes to the education industry,” says Elf.

“It is clear the desire to come to our shores has only gotten stronger.

“Our data shows the top city pairs for education travel are Sydney and Shanghai, Melbourne and Shanghai, Beijing and Sydney, Perth and Shanghai, and Brisbane and Beijing – proving that many of our capital cities appeal to Chinese students and education professionals.

“It’s no coincidence the uplift in numbers has coincided with returning capacity from Chinese carriers.

“We’ve long been advocates of more airlines to more destinations, offering more choice.”

According to the Global Business Travel Association’s 2023 Business Travel Index Outlook, worldwide business travel spend is expected to surpass its pre-pandemic spending level of US$1.4 trillion in 2024.

“For economies to survive, recover and thrive, big business must continue to travel for meetings, events and conferences to retain staff, recruit the best talent and win new contracts,” says Elf.

“These are just some of the factors why business travel has gone beyond just ‘bounce back’.

“We recently announced our Meetings & Events business will be expanding globally to meet the needs of customers now embracing the value of face-to-face interaction instead of Zoom and Teams being the only answer.”

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