The Hotel Shangri La in Nepalís capital Kathmandu was upgraded to 5-star status last year and its casino, the seventh in the city, is scheduled to open next month. The new casino is credited with two firsts for the country: it will be the first boutique casino and the first to have a woman CEO. The Casino Shangri La will also have a 60% female staff, including the directors for Human Resources and Sales & Marketing.
CEO Shalini Wadhwa is a businesswoman from New Delhi who has run publishing ventures in the United States and Sri Lanka. In Nepal she is known as the editor of The Boss, Voice of Women and Casino Times magazines. She is married to Rakesh Wadhwa, executive director of Nepal Recreation Centre that owns the other six casinos in Kathmandu.
Recent turmoil has damaged Nepalís tourism. The state of emergency imposed by the king after a bloodless coup and Maoist guerrillas have caused a downturn in tourist numbers. The casinoís biggest potential market is India, one that it intends to tap with a vigorous marketing campaign. As well as offering competitive packages for tourists, it is intended that the hotel casino will focus on a wide entertainment programme attractive to locals as well as tourists.
Last year the Tourism Industry Division under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, prepared a draft bill to regulate casinos after 29 years of operation. The first casino, Casino Nepal, opened in 1968 after the country decided to issue casino licences. The first casino to open outside the capital is scheduled to commence operations later this year at the Phulbari Resort in Pokhara, a major tourism destination. The casino will be run by Casino Rad in Kathmandu. (E-03.07.06)
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