A week after opening the world’s biggest casino entertainment complex in Macao, Sheldon G Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. said: “It's my responsibility to maximize benefits for shareholders. If I'm just a hotel-developer, the return could be less than 10%, but at integrated resorts like this, it's 50%”. The integrated resort in Macao’s Cotai Strip includes 14 five-star hotel brands, casinos, convention and exhibition halls, arenas and other amenities, all under one roof, which are effective magnets to draw tourists.
Adelson said that his concept would be a boon to the cities where the developments were located as they would create jobs. The Cotai Strip, which will be completed in the next 26-30 months with 20,000 hotel rooms, will hire 70,000 people. In the next five years, supported by the development, Macau will be like Las Vegas.
According to Adelson there are opportunities for future developments in other countries, such as Thailand. However, all development projects must incorporate casinos, as this will generate ample revenue to subsidize other services. Adelson says that “every country has a chance to bring in new tourists,” and at present is in discussions with a country which welcomes 8-10 million tourists a year. He is confident that if an integrated resort is allowed in Thailand, arrivals will double.
Adelson dismissed the possibility of opening casinos in Pattaya or Phuket on the Cambodia border, and was against the idea of putting up small casinos in Thailand. He suggested that if Thailand was ready to open up gambling a single integrated development which could be called “The Bangkok Strip”, would be more beneficial for the country's tourism business. The location must be near a big city with proper construction infrastructure and a mass-transit network. It must also be where labour is easy to find and near a large-capacity international airport to serve many airlines.
“The casino is only one element of the integrated development, but gaming is not a sport that tourists would travel for,” said Adelson, adding that less than 50% of tourists visited Las Vegas to gamble, but due to extra facilities and entertainment activities, hotels there enjoyed a 98.6% occupancy rate. However, the integrated concept did not suit a country like Singapore, where his company is building a single hotel property with a casino in an investment of over US $3.6 billion, and due to open in 2009. (S-09.03.07)
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