James Packer steps up campaign to build Brisbane’s second casino, saying the city needs to act now to lure tourists

JAMES Packer has fired a major salvo in his bid to build a second casino in Brisbane, saying the city needed to think bigger and compete with major Asian destinations in attracting tourists and business.
Speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail, the Crown chairman said the company had a proven track record in attracting tourists and that a large integrated resort, with a casino as a centre piece, would create jobs long after the mining boom had died.
«Brisbane is a city with a big future,» Mr Packer said.
«Everyday its infrastructure and tourism offering improves, but now it needs to think even bigger and try and compete with international cities like Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and Shanghai for tourists and business.»
Mr Packer, who has casino interests in Macau, said the spending power of the emerging Chinese middle class would transform the world.
«Our major cities need to urgently upgrade their hotels, resorts and tourist attractions if they are going to take advantage of this opportunity,» he said.
«Providing a world class tourist offering is one way Australia can create long term jobs for our kids and continue to grow after the mining boom ends. As a country we have a lot of work to do.»
Mr Packer and his Crown executives have been involved in discussions with Premier Campbell Newman and his staff over the possible creation of another casino in Brisbane and government sources have indicated there will be some news in September.
Mr Packer said Crown had a proven track record in tourism in Australia, the group’s resorts in Melbourne and Perth now attracting mor than 25 million visitors each year.
The Crown chief said when an integrated resort was done well it could help lift a city, an argument also being run by the owners of the current Conrad Treasury Casino, Echo Entertainment in their bid to increase their exposure in Brisbane with a larger facility.
«Look at the impact Crown’s resort has had on the Southbank precinct in Melbourne’s CBD, It is now a world class entertainment, residential and tourism hub,» he said.
«Brisbane deserves much better than its current casino offering and Crown’s performance in building and operating high end luxury resorts in Australia is unrivalled.»
Mr Packer said Singapore’s two integrated resorts had shown that when you build a quality offering that meets the Chinese tourist market — the sky was the limit.
«It creates jobs, extra taxes and strong growth. The Singapore experience also shows that these resorts have a positive flow on effect for the whole local tourism sector.
«We look forward to participating in the Queensland Government’s consultation process and showing our tourism credentials to the people of Brisbane.»
A second casino in Brisbane would have an estimated price tag of over $1 billion, the Echo Entertainment proposal with a price tag of about $1.3 billion.
Crown has not specified a site for its second casino in Brisbane but it’s understood Williams St was the preferred location.

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