Asia-Pacific’s eight most expensive countries for business travel
According to recent industry data, Hong Kong has emerged as the overall most expensive city for business travel, followed by Seoul and Tokyo.
ECA's Daily Rates reports, collated annually, record average costs for hotel accommodation, meals, drinks, laundry, taxi transport and daily essentials.
Lee Quane, regional director - Asia for ECA International, said: "Looking at four-star hotel accommodation, rates here are the seventh highest in the region, approximately 20 per cent lower than comparable accommodation in the most expensive location, Hong Kong."
The cheapest location in Asia for business travel is currently Kuala Lumpur; Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Bandar Seri Begawan are the only other capital cities ranked within the top 10 cheapest locations for business travel in Asia.
"A combination of generally low living costs, relatively cheap accommodation options for business travellers and weak currency against the USD have contributed to these locations being where they are in our rankings," Quane added.
Here is the ECA ranking:
1. Hong Kong
2. Seoul, South Korea
3. Tokyo, Japan
5. Busan, South Korea
7. Sydney, Australia
8. Shanghai, China
"Companies have many ways to ensure that the costs incurred by an employee during the course of a business trip are covered, whether that be via reimbursement or the provision of a daily allowance to meet such expenditure," said Quane.
"However, what the variation in costs within the region suggests is that it is important for companies to ensure that the allowances they pay are relative to each location that they send an employee to. These should also be reviewed on a regular basis in order to account for the annual changes."
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.