Following is the transcript of a CNBC interview with Allan Zeman, Founder & Chairman, of Lan Kwai Fong Group. The interview was broadcast on CNBC on 28 April 2017 at 09:40AM SG/HK Time, during CNBC's "Hong Kong versus Singapore" theme week.
All references must be sourced to a "CNBC Interview".
Interviewed by Emily Tan, Reporter, CNBC.
Allan Zeman: Last year was a tough year for Hong Kong. Obviously, majority of our tourists come from the Mainland and since the economy in Mainland took a nosedive for a while and so tourism, I think that it seems to have bottomed out in Hong Kong at the moment. Tourism seems to be rising a little bit, slightly, it's not running away but it is rising a bit. I think that, obviously, Singapore reinvented itself when they got gaming, everything changed, they opened up dramatically. But that's not to say, think about Hong Kong in the future, we have the bridge between Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai which hopefully will be ready end of this year, early next year. The whole area joins up and so I think that Hong Kong still is a very, very good attraction. The night life is still very, very buoyant. You have new districts opening up all the time. Tourists love that.
Emily Tan: Now the worst is over, you mentioned, and Hong Kong has a solid foundation in terms of the tourism industry. But what more can we do, what more can we expect from Hong Kong?
Zeman: We have a tremendous harbor, at the moment we keep people away from the harbor, the harbor is right in the heart of Hong Kong. I think it's really, really important where we develop things around the harbor, you know we have the Rugby Sevens which has become one of the major events, tourist attractions in Hong Kong, I think we need more of those kind of events. I think we need to look at having an event a month and if we can, become the event capital of Asia.
Emily: Is China going to be continuing to be the backbone of Hong Kong's tourism industry and with the slowdown in the Chinese economy that everybody's bracing for, how will that impact Hong Kong?
Zeman: I think China is the backbone, whether we like it or not. Last year, 130 million Chinese tourists went abroad, all over the world including Hong Kong. They've become the tourist of choice, everywhere. Everyone else catering to, whether in Paris, London, New York, wherever you are on the street, you see Mandarin-speaking people. I think Hong Kong, being part of China, the one country two systems, I think it's really, really important for Hong Kong to grasp on to that. I think that will continue, I'm not that concerned, I don't think there will be that slowdown that everyone is talking about in China. But I think that in general, I'm pretty confident that that will continue. I'm also, you know, vice-chairman of Wynn in Macau and I can see that the VIP business has come back very strong.
Emily: Hong Kong will have a new chief executive come July 1st, Mrs Carrie Lam whom you've backed during her campaign. Are you working with her in terms of any tourism initiatives or policies and what would you like to see from her?
Zeman: I think that she's got many, many fish to fry at the moment. Education being one, housing problems another, tourism is a third thing. I think at the moment, Carrie's putting the team together, that will really help Hong Kong to go into the next five years and make it a very, very successful five years. I will help Carrie, I've worked with her so many years, whenever it's required of course, when it's tourism we're always thinking about different ways, I work pretty closely with tourism commission. I'm still an advisor for Ocean Park. And we're always thinking of different ways, of different things that can attract, make Hong Kong attractive to tourism.