New casinos touted
AQUIS Great Barrier Reef Resort proposal at Yorkeys Knob is now odds-on favourite after the State Government yesterday backed at least three new casino licences for integrated resorts across Queensland.
In a joint announcement with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, Premier Campbell Newman said there was a major market for high-end tourism, in particular, mega casino resorts.
He called for expressions of interest for a casino licence and redevelopment of the government precinct in Brisbane, and said there was strong interest in «other parts of Queensland» for which another two licenses would be up for grabs.
The Premier remained coy on the Aquis development licence saying he would not talk specifics, as there was a lot of «strong competition» for vying for position.
However, he said the Aquis proposal was among several exciting development proposals in the Cairns region, along with the Ella Bay resort and the Port Douglas Mirage.
Director and CEO of Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort Justin Fung yesterday welcomed the Government’s decision to «consider two new casino licences outside of Brisbane».
«The commercial viability of Aquis had always been predicated on the inclusion of a casino as part of the multi-faceted offering proposed for the Yorkeys Knob site, Mr Fung said.
«The project will not proceed without an appropriate casino licence.»
Mr Fung said the Aquis proposal was the first of its kind to be suggested to the Newman Government and remains the largest and most advanced integrated resort proposal in Queensland. «We look forward to working with the Government to ensure our project conforms to all licensing requirements,» he said.
He said the Newman Government had been «quick to understand the importance of integrated resorts to the future of Queensland’s tourism industry and our ability to compete on a global stage».
Mr Newman yesterday admitted the future of Queensland’s tourism industry was «bleak» without major draw cards such as integrated casino resorts.
«We have been losing the battle,» he said. «Our offering has been run down and eroded.
«The Government believes Queensland can sustain up to three new integrated resort casinos and believes there would be strong interest in other parts of the state,» Mr Newman said.
«In the end, there could be up to seven new casinos in Queensland.»
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the government would release a new draft casino policy when the EOI for the government precinct was released.
The policy would consider issues such as a market capacity, implications of additional licences on existing and future operations, financial implications for the state, community interests and social implications.
Mr Seeney said such integrated developments which included casinos had «proven their ability to increase visitor numbers and stays elsewhere in the world».
«They are not just casinos as we have previously seen in Queensland; in fact, the casino is only part of these major developments which are tourism drawcards in their own right.»
He cited Singapore as a recent example of success in attracting the tourism dollar. «Singapore’s foreign visitor numbers were declining in 2008 and 2009,» he said.
«When two integrated resorts with casinos (Marina Bay Sands and Resort World Sentosa) opened in 2010 visitor numbers rose by more than 20 per cent.
The resorts contributed $3.7 billion to Singapore’s gross domestic product during the first nine months of operation, of which only $720 million was attributed to gaming tax.»
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