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American Express GBT reveals top destinations for UK business travel

New data from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) highlights the destinations most booked by UK-based business travellers in 2015, with traditional global business hubs leading the table. As in 2014, North America dominates international bookings outside Europe with four cities in the top ten, but emerging economies and technology hubs are also popular.  

The data covers all air and rail bookings made directly with GBT by UK-based travellers in 2015, and provides a snapshot of business travel flows within, and from, the UK. Whilst London, Amsterdam and New York remain as the top destinations for domestic, European and wider international business travel respectively, Shanghai has seemingly lost its lustre since 2014 and has dropped out of the top ten most-booked international destinations outside Europe. In fact, bookings by UK-based travellers to China saw a -17% decrease year-on-year in 2015, potentially reflecting international concerns about the country’s economic situation.  

“This data reveals that, whilst there is consistency with 2014 and the USA clearly remains one of the most important destinations for UK business travellers, there have been some shifts in travel patterns from the UK at both a European and wider international level in 2015,” said Jason Geall, Vice President and General Manager, UK, American Express Global Business Travel. “As our UK customers travel to destinations across the world to pursue business opportunities, we are supporting them with our global access and local expertise, as well as innovative tools to fulfil their duty of care obligations.”  

The US remains a focal point for international business travel from the UK
When it comes to international travel outside of Europe, New York and San Francisco lead bookings made by UK-based travellers. San Francisco, which was ranked third in last year’s ranking, has replaced Dubai as the second most popular destination, suggesting that the technology hub of Silicon Valley has increased in importance for business relationships.  Dubai’s lower ranking may also be symptomatic of the general trend of reduced business travel from Europe to the Middle East.  

The presence of Johannesburg and Mumbai cements the growing importance of emerging markets to UK businesses. Tel Aviv, absent from last year’s rankings, is now in eighth position, perhaps indicating that UK businesses are taking increased interest in the city’s renowned startup ecosystem.  

Although Chinese locations, and Asia in general, are down, the more longstanding business travel destinations of Singapore and Hong Kong still perform well in this year’s rankings. Singapore has actually jumped up one place as comapred to last year’s data.

Amsterdam and Dublin continue to lead European business travel bookings
  Within Europe, Amsterdam remains the most popular business travel destination for UK-based business travellers. Whilst Germany remains the only country to feature more than once on the list, with Frankfurt and Munich at numbers three and six respectively, this is in fact a reduction on last year, when three German cities were represented: Dusseldorf has dropped out of the top ten.  

However, the addition of Stockholm at number ten suggests an increasing interest in the Nordic region from the UK.

London remains the leading UK destination for business travel, with Scotland and northern cities also popular  
The most-booked domestic destination for UK business travellers was London, as in 2014, closely followed by a range of cities from around the UK: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Manchester. The high placement of these four cities highlights the strong business ties across the width and breadth of the UK. The introduction of Leeds into the rankings reinforces the increasing importance of the north as a business hub in the UK.

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