There is no doubt that Macau is going from strength to strength as casino revenues continue to grow one financial quarter after another. However, Singapore appears to have latched onto a winning streak, improving its tourist trade by piggybacking on the success of the gambling and casino market in Asia.
Luxury Non-Gaming Attractions Lure Visitors
To capitalize on this tourism sector, Singapore’s two multibillion dollar gaming resorts have focused their efforts on attracting holidaymakers through luxurious hotels placed around swanky clubs, restaurants catered by Michelin-starred chefs, and the only night-time Formula One race in the world.
The Marina Bay Sands casino – owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. and located in downtown Singapore – may well see expansion to its 2,500 room accommodation and convention facilities in the future as the resort’s operators say that they are running at virtually full capacity.
“Obviously at 99 percent occupancy in the hotel, we think we can sell a few more hotel rooms,” explained George Tanasijevich, chief executive officer of Marina Bay Sands. “So we’d love to increase our inventory.”
Owners of Resorts World at Singapore’s Sentosa Island, Genting Singapore Ltd., are currently building a mid-tier business and leisure hotel which will be used by guests who will be ferried to its Universal Studios theme park and aquarium, hoping also to create more customers for the casino side of the resort.
Paradigm for Other Countries
Governments from other nations in Asia – where gambling is currently further restricted – are watching the way in which the Singapore casinos bury gambling floors inside these tourist resorts, which cater to all ages of the family.These resorts also straddle the delicate line between promoting gambling as the obviously primary revenue source, and the larger authoritative dictums to limit gambling – for locals anyway – as it’s seen as a socially dangerous activity.
From the two multibillion dollar resorts, non-gaming revenue accounted for around 25 percent of the total combined revenues of $1.3 billion for the quarter which ended in June of this year, which is substantially higher than the 10 percent of total revenue acquired from non-gaming in Macau.
Tourism to Singapore has become more popular than ever and has risen by almost 50 percent to 14.4 million in 2012 when compared with the end of 2009. And since the first casino opened its doors in February 2010, this increase in numbers could be easily attributed to the casino trade.
“They are focusing on non-gaming,” explained Fitch Ratings’ primary rating analyst Nandini Vijayaraghavan. “That’s how they get captive customers for their gaming business, especially Genting Singapore. If a family checks in, usually one or both parents would go to the casino and the kids would end up at the attractions.
“If they have to get repeat customers, they would necessarily have to offer a lot more than just gaming in their premises,” added the analyst. “We do believe that the hotel and attractions give an element of stability to earnings.”
Clearly this is a strategy which is working well for the enormous resort owners, as the Singapore Tourism Board reported, during a survey last year, that the Sentosa and Sands’ Skypark, which consists of an observation deck and recreational area with a 57th floor infinity pool, were among the most popular paid attractions visited by foreign tourists.
In addition, musicals, Bollywood-style shows and fashion events continue to help boost the tourism trade, which in turn brings more foot traffic onto the casino floors without promoting the area as purely a gambling location.