Travel Costs Likely to Soar in '99

Article excerpt

A new study indicates business travellers will pay the price next year for Asia's economic ills. LISA PANOZZO reports

Regional business travellers can expect expenses to soar next year as slower economic growth, takes it toll on travel vendors, according to a new study.

The American Express 1998 Business Travel Trends and Forecasts report for the Asia-Pacific region predicts airlines and hotels, in particular, will adjust service and price levels to overcome tougher trading conditions in 1999.

Leisure travellers can expect to benefit from price discounts and promotional packages, but business travellers will miss out.

Vice president of American Express corporate services, Ms Tracey Bowra, said in the current economic climate stricter controls on companies' travel expenses must be implemented.

"The pressure on corporate profitability being felt by Asian companies is going to be exacerbated by increases in the cost of travel needed to maintain or grow businesses," Ms Bowra said.

"(However) costs can be reduced by implementing a standard approach to buying services, setting and monitoring travel policies and streamlining administration costs."

The American Express study, released in Hong Kong recently, was the first conducted by the company across the region.

It forecasts business travel cost increases across all sectors of the industry including airlines, hotels, car rentals, and meals and entertainment.

Airfares for the business traveller were likely to increase, the study found, as airlines attempted to recover higher operating costs -- a result of regional currency devaluations. …