SPEECH BY MR LEE CHEE KOON CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE ASCOTT LIMITED AT THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY OF BUSINESS CHINA AWARDS 2017 BY SINGAPORE’S PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
When Xueling, the CEO of Business China, first contacted me, I thought she had wanted me to participate in some of the programmes organised by Business China. So when she informed me of this award, I was completely taken aback. It’s been quite a few years since I returned from my overseas posting in China, but I remain a strong believer and supporter of the strong relationship between our two countries Singapore and China. I therefore feel particularly honoured and humbled to stand here before you this evening to receive this award.
Ascott has grown very significantly, having more than doubled our growth in the last five years. If we look at most of the big international hospitality companies, like Marriott in the US, AccorHotels in Europe, and China Lodging Group in China, these companies started off with a huge natural advantage because they had a domestic hinterland where they could first build a good base for their business before venturing overseas. But Singapore, as it has been said many times, is a city-state without any natural endowments or hinterland. That Ascott has managed to grow an international hospitality business out of Singapore is a commendable achievement.
Without a doubt, China has been a big part of our growth and transformational journey. Ascott started out in China in 1998 with our first serviced residence in Shanghai. Today, it is our fastest growing market with more than 100 properties across 29 cities. More than 60% of our customers in China are local Chinese, and they are the fastest growing group of customers. China generates more than four billion in domestic travel and 130 million in outbound travel , and I believe Ascott is well positioned to capture this growing market.
Ascott has always been on the lookout for opportunities to work with Chinese firms. I am pleased to count Vanke, Yuexiu, and China Merchant among some of our valuable China partners. To further spur innovation in our business, Ascott took a stake in Tujia.com (commonly known as China’s AirBnB) and formed a strategic partnership with Alibaba’s Fliggy to reach out to more Chinese travellers on their platforms. We are currently working on a number of other interesting tie-ups in China, and I hope to share more good news with you when we are ready.
I am extremely heartened by the progress Ascott has made in China. These achievements are only possible because of the people we have in the company. As the Chinese saying goes: 盖有非常之功，必待非常之人, we need extraordinary people to achieve extraordinary outcomes. At the heart of Ascott’s achievements is my core team. They are some of the most intelligent, capable, dedicated, responsible and resourceful colleagues I have ever met. Of course, we cannot forget many key people who have been instrumental in laying the foundation for Ascott, so that my colleagues and I can reap the fruits of the labour. 前人种树，后人乘凉。So rightfully, this Business China Award should belong to CapitaLand, to Ascott, and to all the extraordinary colleagues who have been involved in this amazing journey.
Before I end, I would like to thank my wife Melanie, who is also here tonight; for being a loving and understanding wife, for being the greatest mummy to our three lovely young children, and for being my best friend and my soulmate.
Once again, thank you for this great honour.
To be attributed to Business China
Ascott Huai Hai Road Shanghai
Ascott Raffles City Chengdu