New gaming resort to boost Singapore tourism

Genting’s upcoming casino resort featuring a Universal Studios theme park will be Singapore’s biggest tourism money spinner and is expected to break even in seven years, the Malaysian gaming giant said this week.

The “Resorts World at Sentosa” is projected to generate tourism receipts of $9,5-billion annually by 2015, half of the overall industry target set by the Singapore Tourism Board, Genting International chief financial officer Tan Hee Teck said.

“Resorts World at Sentosa will be the single largest contributor to tourism receipts in the country,” he said at a press conference three days after Singapore announced that a consortium, led by Genting International, won the city-state’s second gaming licence.

The Genting resort will be located on Sentosa island, a popular beach and golf resort linked to mainland Singapore by a causeway and monorail.

Another casino is to be built by United States-based Las Vegas Sands near Singapore’s banking district, which will be aimed at the international convention market.

Projections by Genting showed the Sentosa project, which will feature Asia’s first Universal theme park outside Japan, will attract 15-million visitors in its first year of operations in 2010.

When completed, the resort will employ 10 000 people.

Singapore lifted its 40-year ban on casinos as part of plans to spruce up its staid image and draw more tourists.

Genting, one of the largest gaming operators in Asia, does not foresee the Singapore resort affecting its flagship casino and leisure resort in Malaysia’s Genting Highlands near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“We see minimum impact,” Lim Kok Thay, chairperson and chief executive of the Genting Group, said at the press conference.

“If any, it will be a positive impact because we feel that as more and more opportunities open up in the gaming and leisure sector, the pie will grow.”

Resorts World at Sentosa is targeted at holidaymakers from the Asian region, especially from India and China, as well as visitors from the US and Europe, while the Genting Highlands resort draws tourists from its home market and neighbouring countries, Lim said.

“So in that sense, there is enough to go around,” Lim said.

Genting hopes to recoup its investment “over a seven-year payback period” from the Sentosa resort. Two-thirds of the funding will come from project financing and the rest via equity, said Tan.

Apart from the Universal theme park, the resort will feature what is billed as the world’s largest oceanarium complete with a water park, maritime museum and six hotels offering more than 1 800 rooms.

The resort will also house a DreamWorks movie studio, allowing visitors a peek at how film animators use computer technology to create movies. DreamWorks has produced several animated blockbuster movies, including Madagascar and Shrek 2.

Analysts said the Sentosa win is a boost for the long-term growth of Genting, which recently acquired Britain’s largest casino operator, Stanley Leisure, and also owns Star Cruises, the world’s third largest cruise operator.—AFP


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