Wilfred Wong Ying Wai (pictured), president of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd, has told GGRAsia that the construction of an additional hotel tower at its Cotai Expo conference and events centre at the Venetian Macao, is not part of the firm’s immediate planning.
Mr Wong made the comments on Tuesday on the sidelines of his keynote speech on the first day of the “Asian IR Expo + Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia 2023″ in Macau. He said it would be “some time” before such a new tower for Cotai Expo could come to fruition.
Robert Goldstein, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp, the parent firm, had in May confirmed to GGRAsia that such a hotel tower was being proposed to the Macau government, and would be additional to the MOP30.0 billion (US$3.72 billion) that Sands China has pledged to the Macau government to invest up to the 2032 end of its current gaming concession.
In his Tuesday comments to GGRAsia, Mr Wong said that the elements of the company’s existing pledge to the Macau government included an “upgrade [to] the Cotai Arena as part of the MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions]… offerings.”
Other elements included “opening up of new restaurants, inviting shows into Macau”.
During the presentation, Mr Wong mentioned the Londoner Macao’s restaurant Huaiyang Garden, which he said had already earned a Michelin star.
He noted in his comments to GGRAsia that Macau was: “Just at the beginning of the recovery. It’s very difficult to just launch full force,” with products for the market.
Asked about recent volatility in the share prices of the six Macau gaming operators, Mr Wong observed: “You see the shares in Macau, they go up and down together.”
He added there was “no differentiation” between the operators. Though he suggested that a “weaker economy” at macro level, could play a role.
During his presentation, Mr Wong gave some colour on a feature mentioned in December when Sands China outlined its spending commitment for the 10-year concession that started on January 1 this year – an 18,000 square-metre (193,750 sq. foot) extension to its MICE facilities at the Venetian Macao.
He said: “We will expand the MICE facility so that it connects with the current Cotai Expo. So we will build 18,000 square metres of space… in the next a few years. The faster the recovery of our business, the faster we embark on this project.”
New MICE customer markets
Mr Wong said Sands China was widening its scope in the search for new MICE customers for its Macau business, as well as for attracting more leisure travellers.
He mentioned that the launch expected in August of direct airside clearance of passengers flying in to Hong Kong International Airport would mean international travellers bound for Macau would no longer need to clear Hong Kong immigration first. They could link direct to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
“That is going to be a big advantage for MICE operations and convention operations,” stated Mr Wong.
The executive noted the Macau government “wants us” as an industry, “to go global, not just focusing on the existing market… not just being in [mainland] China, not just Hong Kong, Taiwan, but the rest of the world.”
“For MICE, we are targeting South Korea, Japan, and so on… the [Asia-Pacific] region, it’s our primary target”, said the Sands China president.
He added that for leisure, “the United States, Europe [we] will also be targeting, but we have to be realistic. Today, the airfares are still very expensive. So, we want to focus on the [local] region so that people can come more readily and it be affordable.”
Oct 01, 2023Macau’s September casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) fell by 13.2 percent month-on-month, to MOP14.94 billion (US$1.85 billion), according to a Sunday announcement from the local regulator, the...
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