Hong Kong Investor Says Cyprus Casino Will Lure Asian Tourists

FILE - An aircraft takes position for landing at Larnaca airport as the moon rises in southern coastal city of Larnaca, Cyprus, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The Hong Kong-based investor behind Europe’s largest casino resort being built on Cyprus said it will especially bring wealthy gamblers from Asia, adding to ongoing record tourist seasons that pulled the island out of a near-economic catastrophe brought on by the banks.

Lawrence Ho, billionaire owner and Chief Executive Officer of Melco Resorts & Entertainment will operate what will be called the ‘City of Dreams Mediterranean’ in Limassol on the island’s south coast and will also target visitors from Russia and Britain, the financial news agency Bloomberg said in a report.

“Asian tourists will be able to recognize our brand and as time develops they could be attracted to Cyprus,” Ho said in an interview in Nicosia. “Melco as a company attracts sophisticated customers, middle and upper class customers.” Other targets include big rollers from the nearby Middle East.

Melco presented its plans on Jan. 9 for the construction and operation of the resort in Limassol as well as for another four satellite casinos in other parts of the popular vacation destination. The project represents a total investment of 550 million euros ($659.9 million) and is scheduled for completion in 2021.

Melco and local partner The Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) won an exclusive license to operate Cyprus’s first-ever casino. Cypriot authorities project that the resort could attract an additional 300,000 visitors a year boosting economic output by a further 700 million euros per annum, currently around four percent of gross domestic product, after the second year of operation.

The casino resort should pump $838 million into the island nation’s economy annually from 2022, the second year of its operation, the country’s President Nicos Anastasiades said, bringing in as much as 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 16.57 billion euros ($19.8 billion).

“Our government’s aim is the creation of a complete casino resort that will be paramount in Europe and one of the best in the world,” Anastasiades said at a presentation of the resort plans.
The City of Dreams Mediterranean casino resort is forecast to create 4,000 construction jobs, employ another 2,500 permanent staff and bring in an additional 300,000 tourists annually from Europe and elsewhere. It will be built by a consortium made up of Melco Resorts and Entertainment and the Cyprus Phassouri Ltd.

Melco says the resort will be Europe’s largest and will include 136 tables and 1,200 gaming machines, a five-star, 500-room hotel, 11 restaurants and cafes and a convention expo center.

Ho said the Cypriot resort will mirror the company’s other resorts in Macau and the Philippines in architecture, design, and entertainment.

Anastasiades said the casino will enrich Cyprus’ year-round tourism offering and help attract foreign investment to the country, which needed a multibillion-euro rescue from other eurozone countries to avoid bankruptcy back in 2013.

A temporary casino will open up by June in the southern coastal town of Limassol, where the resort will be built. Four other satellite casinos — one for each of Cyprus’ districts — will also start operating by the middle of this year. The age limit for entry into the casino has been set at 21.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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