New York, Geneva, Zurich, Luanda and Bridgetown remain world’s most expensive global locations for business travel

23 April, 2018

New York, Geneva, Zurich, Luanda and Bridgetown remain the world’s most expensive cities for business travel, according to latest research from global mobility experts, ECA International. Its an exact repeat of last year’s ECA Daily Rates report top five ranking, albeit there were notable changes in the top ten with London slipping out of the rankings, Paris jumping up four places from tenth to sixth, and Basel and Monaco also entering the top ten.


  • New York is the world’s most expensive city for business travel, according to ECA International with an estimated daily cost of GBP611 a day;
  • London has dropped out of the top ten most expensive locations in the world for business travel, overtaken by Monaco, Basel and Paris;
  • Top ten list dominated by cities in Switzerland with three of the top four and five of the top ten most expensive European cities located in the country;
  • Hong Kong ousts Tokyo as the most expensive city for business travel in Asia, but is still only 29th in the global ranking.

A business trip to New York costs GBP611 a day on average, according to ECA’s annually updated Daily Rates report, which reviews the average costs for hotel accommodation - which makes up the bulk of any daily allowance - as well as meals, drinks, laundry, taxi transport and daily essentials. This information is used by companies to determine daily expense allowances for staff undertaking international business travel. The estimated New York daily rate cost is more than ten per cent higher than its closest rival, Geneva at GBP554.

The Big Apple’s premium is mainly linked to the premium rate charged for hotel accommodation due to the high demand levels in city ; averaging GBP392 per night at a 4* hotel, the comparison ranking measurement used by ECA for this analysis as it as it “best represents the typical level of accommodation used by business travellers”. This, as well as mandatory 15-20% tipping policies during meals out, contribute to the costs of staying in the US city.

TABLE - The top five cities in this year's ECA Daily Rates report are an exact copy of last year's edition with New York taking the top spot ahead of the European cities of Geneva and ZurichSource: ECA International's ECA Daily Rates 2018 report

Geneva is the most expensive city in Europe for the fourth year in a row, as Swiss cities dominate the top ten: Zurich is again ranked second in Europe and third in the world, while Basel has moved up from sixth to fourth position in Europe and from twelfth to ninth on a global scale. Lugano and Basel also once gain make it into the European top ten, although the latter did slip from fifth to eighth.

Notably, London has dropped three places this year, down to the sixth most expensive city in Europe for business travel from third last year with an average daily cost of GBP448 across the measurement criteria. This has seen it slip out of the global top ten and is a trend that is being seen across the United Kingdom, mainly driven by , the strong performance of the euro in the past year has seen costs in other cities increase.

ECA’s data actually shows that across every surveyed UK location the cost of business travel has fallen. “Aberdeen especially illustrates the sudden drop in cost for business travel to the UK, falling from 13th to 39th in the European rankings in just two years,” explains Simon Franklin, daily rates manager at ECA International. “This has been exacerbated by the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry which has led to a reduction in demand for business travel to the area, as well as having an impact on the local economy.”

TABLE - The top ten most expensive European destinations for business travel are dominated cities in Switzerland, a country that has always been expensive for travel but has been further exaggerated by the strong performing Swiss francSource: ECA International's ECA Daily Rates 2018 report

ECA's Daily Rates for business travellers help organisations to anticipate the cost of business trips and short-term assignments. Globally, the Daily Rates reports for 2017-18 are available for 375 locations in 192 countries.

In Asia, Hong Kong is now the most expensive location for business travel having once again overtaken Tokyo, where costs have been decreasing after the Yen fell in value over the course of 2017. A typical business trip to Tokyo will now cost on average USD501 per day, down from USD537 in 2016, according to the annual ECA Daily Rates report.

Singapore has continued to rise in the rankings and is now joint third after a slight increase in the price of business travel (up from USD472 to USD479),

“Although only a small increase, the rise in business travel costs in Singapore reflects a growing trend” says Lee Quane, regional director – Asia for ECA International. “Hotel costs have risen slightly in the past 12 months but the main reason for Singapore’s rise has been the increased cost of eating out in restaurants frequented by business travellers in the city over the past year.”

Elsewhere, Chinese cities have seen an increase in cost for a standard business trip, with Shanghai now ranked as the ninth most expensive location for business travel in the region. At the other end of the spectrum the cheapest region for international business travel continues to be Malaysia, with Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru remaining at the bottom of the rankings.

TABLE - Hong Kong may be the most expensive city in Asia for business travel, ahead of Tokyo and Singapore, but it ranks outside of the top 20 locations globally, and is ranked 29th overallSource: ECA International's ECA Daily Rates 2018 report