HONG KONG – The 2019 Hotel Investment Conference Asia
Pacific (HICAP) opened Oct 24, with a firm pledge to commit to Hong Kong. “We wanted to be here as your
partners in Hong Kong through these challenging times. We are 100% committed to Hong Kong,” said Tom Kemp, chairman and CEO of Northstar Travel Group that operates HICAP under The BHN Group.
More than 250 companies represented by 550
delegates from 28 countries also committed to the Hong Kong event, making for a
high-quality gathering, even if the numbers were down on previous years.
More than 25% of the attendees were at the level of
chairman, CEO, president or owner, and one in five of the companies were
capital market or development firms.
Following a half-day that included a master
class on “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” of mixed-use developments and hotel
management agreement negotiations, the event proper kicked off with two
speakers presenting scene-setting outlooks.
Priyanka Kishore, head of India and SEA
Economics, Oxford Economics, outlined the US-China’s trade war and its toll on
global growth, before delivering the good news: tourism is outpacing GDP growth
in APAC where travel growth prospects are strong.
According to STR’s managing director Robin
Rossmann, tipping points include the outpacing of supply growth to demand
growth in general, the disruption of technology on the fragmented hospitality industry,
and sustainability (or the lack thereof) which has resulted in the industry’s
Another panel spotlighted the global
investment outlook, with September 2019 showing a 23% increase in APAC; America
down by 16% and EMEA down by 5%.
To that, Kenneth Gaw, president and
managing principal Gaw Capital Partners, expressed surprise as he sees more
attractive deals in Europe as compared to Asia, which is more difficult for
Winnie Chiu, president and executive
director Dorsett Hospitality International, who shared that many family owner-operators
in Asia acquire hotels and hold them for longer, affirmed this.
Founder and CEO Global Hospitality
Investment Group Kevin Colket declared himself bearish about China and bullish
Breakout sessions competed the morning with
topics spanning economy hotels, renovations and conversions, creative
acquisition structures, debt and financing.
In the midst of the presentations,
organisers of HICAP took a moment to recognise the stellar careers of living
legends with an Innovation Award handed out to Sonu Shivdasani, guardian of the
culture, CEO and joint creative director Soneva, and Lifetime Achievement Award
to Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd.