Chinese travelers are coming, says Banyan Tree founder Ho Kwon Ping

Chinese travelers are returning to Banyan Tree Holdings hotels, its founder told CNBC.

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There is no “need to worry” about the shortage of Chinese travelers, said Ho Kwon Ping, founder of Banyan Tree Holdings.

“They will definitely come back,” he told CNBC’s Chery Kang on Wednesday at the Milken Institute Asia Summit.

“China is just a temporary blip,” he said. “About a year ago, most of us in the hospitality industry predicted that Chinese tourism would only start to rebound maybe this year or even next year.”

No one expected a rapid shift from lockdown to mass travel, he added.

For Banyan Tree Holdings – which operates more than 60 hotels in 17 countries – Ho said “Chinese tourism is coming back quite strongly.”

What is missing are “mass group visits, which provide figures, but they don’t come to our hotels anyway,” he said.

“So there are a lot more free individual travelers…and they are the ones who can pay the highest airfares and so on.”

He is also optimistic about China’s tourism market.

“The Chinese government has said it very clearly: it does not want heavy growth driven by investments, it wants growth based on consumption and consumption equals tourism. And tourism, as you will tell me, does not “No matter which economist, has the greatest potential. ripple effect,” he said.

The Chinese real estate market

Ho also dismissed concerns about turmoil surrounding China’s real estate market, which accounts for about 30% of its economy.

“The banking system is not going to collapse because it is Chinese banks that are lending money,” he said.

We are comfortable with the history of real estate in China, as we had a number of hotels in China that were all sold before the real estate bubble.

Ho Kwon Ping

Banyan tree properties

“That’s why you see companies like Country Garden… close to bankruptcy, but not bankrupt,” he said, referring to the Chinese real estate giant that narrowly missed defaulting .

Furthermore, “the percentage of China’s population that still lives in modern housing is not half close to that of the Western world. So there is still high demand.”

As for his company’s exposure to a Chinese real estate bubble, he said: “We are comfortable with a real estate story in China, because we had a number of hotels in China that were all sold before the real estate bubble.”

Not just two superpowers

Ho said he believed Singapore, where his hotel brand is headquartered, could help ease geopolitical tensions that have been escalating between China and the United States.

“I think Singapore can actually play a very important role in trying to make the United States, and the West in particular, understand that the rise of China is the rise of an entire civilization – and that This is not a zero-sum game that they are involved in. trying to elevate themselves to the point of demeaning America and the West.”

The Western psyche was too absorbed in the Cold War, which was a zero-sum game, he said.

Even if the West has been dominant for 300 years, a dominant global power cannot last in perpetuity, he said.

“I think we’re going back to what I call ‘Back to the Future,’ like in the movie, where the world in 50 years will be made up of various great civilizations,” he said.

“I use the word civilization because it’s not about economics. It’s not about military power, or even politics (or) the idea that the only standard by which you should judge the politics of a country is whether it practices liberal democracy…I think all that is changing.”

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