The chairman and chief executive of Philippines casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp, Enrique Razon (pictured), said he would be willing to invest in a new international airport in Manila to boost tourism in the country. He suggested a new gateway would also bolster the number of tourists that visit Entertainment City, the city’s casino cluster.
Philippines-listed Bloomberry Resorts is the operator of casino resort Solaire Resort and Casino, the first of four integrated resorts planned for Entertainment City, an area earmarked by Philippine authorities to become a casino zone near downtown Manila, and meant to emulate the success of Macau’s Cotai district.
“It really depends on what they [the government] are bidding out,” Mr Razon told local reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of Bloomberry Resorts’ annual meeting. The businessman said the government must first define plans for a new airport, which would be more interesting that privatising an existing terminal in Manila.
“We’re pushing mainly for the airport… The focus now is on the expansion of landing capacity,” Mr Razon said.
“The government’s role is building infrastructure to accommodate more tourists. And our role is to provide resorts that will cater to them,” he added, according to local newspaper the Manila Times.
Philippine-listed conglomerate Ayala Corp in April expressed interest in taking part in a redevelopment of the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Bloomberry Resorts’ chairman expressed optimism about the Philippine casino market, as building work continues at two unfinished resorts in the Entertainment City zone. “At this pace, the country is well on its way to become a major global player in the gaming industry,” Mr Razon said in his message to shareholders.
The executive also said that the company expects to open a new 10,000-square metre (107,639 sq. feet) high-end shopping mall in one wing of the Solaire property by the end of the year. The retail area is located at the new Sky Tower, opened in November.
Bloomberry Resorts’ gross gaming revenue in the first quarter of 2015 increased by 14.6 percent as compared to the same period last year, the company said in May. The firm did however show a loss of approximately PHP533.05 million (US$11.85 million) in its unaudited first quarter results, on costs that rose 42 percent.
“The top line was pretty good, but we had a lot of costs because of the Phase 1 development,” Mr Razon said on Wednesday.
Mr Razon said the company expects to submit its plans for a casino complex for the Incheon Free Economic Zone, in South Korea, by the “end of the month”. He told reporters that the company is in talks with prospective partners, but no agreement has been finalised.
In January, Bloomberry Resorts said it was purchasing a plot of land on Muui Island, part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone. In March, the casino operator said it was buying the whole of neighbouring Silmi Island, also in the economic zone, close to Incheon International Airport, which serves South Korea’s capital Seoul.
Another deal announced in March included the acquisition of up to 92 percent of Golden and Luxury Co Ltd, which owns and operates T.H.E. Hotel and Vegas Casino on South Korea’s southern holiday destination Jeju Island. The revamped casino is slated for reopening this year, according to Bloomberry Resorts.
On Wednesday, Mr Razon also said the company is eyeing the markets of Japan and Taiwan, if casino gambling is legalised in either of the jurisdictions.
Taiwanese legislators were reportedly eyeing to revive a draft bill that would allow casinos in the outlying island chains of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu. Mainland China officials have ruled out the idea of that country’s citizens being allowed to gamble in Taiwan casinos if such schemes ever come to fruition.
Aside from Taiwan, Mr Razon said his company remains interested in expanding its business to Japan.
“There is a law now in parliament. We are watching it closely to see if it passes this session. If it passes, Japan of course will be an exciting market,” he said, according to another local newspaper, the Manila Standard.
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Aggregate number of visitor arrivals to Macau in October