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  Channel NewsAsia 16 Apr 07
Daily tourist arrivals to surge when IRs operational in 2010


Today Online 17 Apr 07
Genting now on firm ground
Probity-check matter 'no issue', says trade minister Lim at IR groundbreaking

Tan Hui Leng

Business Times 17 Apr 07
Hng Kiang on Genting: no more issues now
Government expects 25% rise in visitor numbers for 2010 when the two IRs open

By Arthur Sim

(SINGAPORE) The Singapore government appears to have been appeased by the withdrawal of Star Cruises from Genting International's Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) consortium, with Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang saying yesterday there is 'no issue now'.

The government had said earlier this year that Star Cruises' associates, including Macau tycoon Stanley Ho, would be subject to probity checks before a casino licence was awarded. Genting International said subsequently it would buy Star Cruises' 25 per cent stake in RWS. And Mr Lim said yesterday that RWS 'understands our need to maintain these probity checks and there is no issue now'.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for RWS, he said the government expects a 25 per cent increase in visitor numbers for 2010 when the two integrated resorts (IRs) open. He also revealed that RWS intends to award $508 million of contracts for infrastructure works and development services in the next few weeks.

This includes the reclamation of 8 ha of land.

The Malaysian-based Genting group still has plans to build a casino in Macau with a sub-licence from Stanley Ho, but this will not be an issue for the Singapore Government.

Mr Lim said: 'We are only looking at our jurisdiction - who the partners and shareholders are in Resorts World at Sentosa.' Also speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony was Genting International chairman Lim Kok Thay, who said RWS has already awarded $20 million of contracts to Singapore businesses.

On the upcoming $508 million of contracts, he said: 'In the next phase we anticipate that most of (the contracts) will go to Singapore companies - not necessarily as the main contract but in terms of the sub-contractors.' Total building contracts are now estimated at $3 billion.

Apart from having a Universal Studios theme park that will be bigger than the original in California, Mr Lim said four additional attractions by renowned designer Jeremy Railton will be added.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) now expects an additional two-to-three million visitors by 2010, representing a 25 per cent increase from the 11 million visitors projected for 2009.

STB also expects average length of stay to increase from 3.4 days in 2006 to 3.6 days in 2010. This means that the number of visitors per day will increase 55 per cent - from about 90,000 in 2006 to nearly 140,000 in 2010, the minister said.

Many will stay at RWS's 1,800 hotel rooms, but Mr Lim said there are 13 hotel sites available for the first half of the government's 2007 land sales programme. 'If all these sites are sold, we are looking at potentially adding another 5,000 hotel rooms,' he said.

STB is also exploring the use of unoccupied state buildings as hotel rooms, he added.

Development on the Southern Islands appears to have been put on the back burner, though. STB had said earlier that a Request for Concepts could take place in the first quarter of this year but Mr Lim said yesterday: 'Until we can settle on a project with a wow factor, we will not go forward. We are in no rush.'

On the possibility of a third casino on the Southern Islands, he said: 'Casinos are not on the horizon for the time being.'

Elaborating, he said the government does not 'fly blindly'. 'Internally, we would have settled on 70-80 per cent on the ideas before we go out.' STB will, nevertheless, have its hands full.

Mr Lim said it is now working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and major airlines to explore ways to increase air capacity to cater to the expected increase in visitors and expand the current 180 destinations.

STB will also launch a three-year campaign to promote the hospitality sector. The two IRs are expected to create between 50,000-60,000 new jobs throughout the economy, Mr Lim said.

Today Online 17 Apr 07
Genting now on firm ground
Probity-check matter 'no issue', says trade minister Lim at IR groundbreaking

Tan Hui Leng huileng@mediacorp.com.sg

GENTING International's business integrity is no longer an issue after the company distanced itself from Macau tycoon Stanley Ho, said a Singapore minister yesterday.

At the groundbreaking ceremony of the integrated resort (IR) project Resorts World yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang gave his latest take on the controversial deal that caused the Government to publicly display its unhappiness in February.

"Resorts World at Sentosa understands (Singapore's) need to maintain these probity checks and there is no issue now," he said, referring to the matter that sent Genting scrambling to cut its links with the 85-year-old billionaire. The statement would come as a relief to Genting even as construction begins at the 49-ha Resorts World site.

Construction on the other IR, Marina Bay Sands, began in February. When the two resorts are operational by 2010, the total annual visitor arrivals is expected to reach 13 to 14 million. This is a 25 per cent increase over the 11 million visitors projected for the year 2009.

Singapore aims to attract 17 million visitors generating $30 billion in tourism receipts by 2015. The average length of stay is also expected to go up, from 3.4 days last year to 3.6 days in 2010 which works out to a 55 per cent increase in the number of visitors a day, from about 90,000 last year to 140,000 in 2010.

Yesterday's news contrasted with the uncertainty Genting experienced two months ago, when the Ministry of Home Affairs said the company did not automatically qualify for a casino license just because it had won the bid to build the $5.2-billion IR on Sentosa.

This led to Genting selling its share of the Macau investment to its partner, Star Cruises, then buying Star Cruises' stake in the Singapore resort.

There was good news for the Singapore economy yesterday, too, with a Genting announcement that its IR would be awarding $508 million in construction contracts until June. Most of the contracts are expected to go to Singapore companies, said Genting International chairman Lim Kok Thay. These contracts are in addition to some $20 million worth of pre-construction works already tendered out, all to Singapore companies.

Resorts World at Sentosa expects to receive 15 million visitors generating $10 billion in tourism receipts when it opens. The IR will also employ mature workers, the disabled and ex-offenders among its 10,000 employees. It is already in talks with the National Trades Union Congress and the Workforce Development Agency on issues such as job matching and skills training.

"The focus will not only be on hard skills and experience, but also attitude and personality," said Mr Lim. "It will be less about what our employees have done and more on what they are capable of performing."

Genting will also appoint an agency for marketing and branding by mid-year. It has allocated a three-year budget of $70 million for this purpose.

Channel NewsAsia 16 Apr 07
Daily tourist arrivals to surge when IRs operational in 2010

SINGAPORE: Singapore can expect a surge in tourist arrivals, with the daily number set to jump by some 55 per cent when the two integrated resorts are operational in 2010. Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang announced this at the ground breaking ceremony for Singapore's second integrated resort at Sentosa.

He said the tourism outlook remains positive and hoped businesses can exploit the new opportunities created.

The $5.2 billion Resorts World at Sentosa will feature a Universal Studio theme park, the world's largest oceanarium, and six world-class hotels. It is slated to be fully operational by mid-2010.

Together with the Marina Bay Sands project, the resorts are projected to add another 2 to 3 million visitors, bringing the total tourist arrivals to 14 million in 3 years.

"Going by the current growth rate, this will represent a significant 25 per cent increase over the 11 million visitors that we are projecting for the year 2009. Combined with the expected increase in the length of stay from 3.4 days in 2006 to 3.6 days in 2010, this means that the number of visitors per day will increase significantly by 55 percent - from about 90,000 in 2006 to nearly 140,000 in 2010," said Minister Lim.

There will also be a buzz for other sectors. Resorts World has some $508 million worth of projects to be tendered for over the next few weeks, with most of them expected to go to Singapore companies in the form of sub-contracts.

Among the projects are: an 8-hectare land reclamation project in front of the old ferry terminal, re-routing traffic and excavation works.

All in, Resorts World will offer some S$3 billion worth of construction and development contracts leading up to 2010.

Business deals aside, a hot topic at the ground-breaking ceremony was whether Genting had cleared the necessary checks to obtain the licence to operate the casino at the integrated resort.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs just put out a statement to reiterate our stand on probity checks. Resorts World at Sentosa understands our need to maintain this probity checks and there is no issue now. We are only looking at our jurisdiction, who the partners and shareholders participating in Resorts World Sentosa," said Mr Lim.

Genting acknowledged that it is still early days yet to apply for the licence. Under the rules, an application can only be made after half of the investment amount and gross floor area of the project have been completed.

But Genting is making good progress in its move to distance itself from business tie-ups with Macau's gaming tycoon Stanley Ho. Lim Kok Thay, Chairman of Genting International, said:

"The disposal of the Macau investment by Genting International has already been concluded. What is outstanding is the disposal of the outstanding purchase of 25 per cent in Sentosa by GIL to StarCruises. That's waiting for shareholders' approval."

On the manpower front, the two new resorts are expected to add up to 60,000 jobs to the economy.

The Singapore Tourism Board will also launch a 3-year campaign - starting this year - to prepare the workforce for careers in the hospitality sector. Resorts World, which is set to create over 10,000 jobs, says it will not rule out hiring mature workers, the disabled or ex-offenders. - CNA/ir

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