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Friday, January 30, 2009

Genting’s casino resort project on track

An artist’s impression of the Resorts World at Sentosa. Robin Goh (inset) says the economic downtu rn has not affected the progress of construction works.

PETALING JAYA: Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS), built at a cost of S$6bil (RM14.34bil) by Genting Bhd, is on track for opening early next year despite the global financial crisis.

According to Resorts World at Sentosa Pte Ltd assistant vice-president Robin Goh, the economic downturn has not affected the progress of construction works.

He said RWS would be the only casino resort in the world with two world-class attractions - South-East Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park and Marine Life Park, the world’s largest oceanarium.

“No other casino offers such a strong, integrated one-stop proposition which will be highly attractive to family travel, a substantial segment in the region.

“We believe that Resorts World’s proposition as a complete destination is its key differentiation from Macau, which is still very skewed towards gaming,” he told StarBiz.

On worries that the poor performance of casinos in Macau would affect Singapore’s latest resort, Goh said (RWS) would “bring to the table what Macau does not already have.”

“Macau only has casinos and big hotels whereas RWS will be home to some of the world’s leading attractions, including the Universal Studios theme park which will occupy almost half of the resort,” he said.

He said the theme park would feature 24 movie-themed rides, 18 of which were designed exclusively for Singapore.

“Among them is the world’s tallest pair of duelling roller coasters, the “Transformers” ride and hot favourites given a new twist, such as Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park River Rapids and the Waterworld Stunt Show,” he said.

Based on the blockbuster movie, the “Transformers” ride is the world’s first and is scheduled to debut at Universal Studios Singapore and later at Universal Studios, Hollywood, both in 2011.

RWS will also be home to Mark Burnett Productions Asia, which will set up studio facilities where game shows will be filmed.

The 49ha resort will also feature a FestiveWalk, Marine Life Park and Maritime Xperiential Museum. “Marine Life Park — sited on 8ha and filled with 20 million gallons of water — will be the largest oceanarium in the world,” Goh said, adding there would be over 700,000 marine creatures and opportunities to hand-feed tiger sharks from an enclosed cage.

Just a 20-minute ride from Changi airport, RWS will also be able to host over 12,000 delegates in three formal meeting locations at any one time.

“We would be able to do something which has never done before in the region. We propose to bring delegates on rides and show them what goes on behind the scenes. So people will get to see the magic behind how we scare people,” Goh said.

The resort is expected to welcome 15 million visitors in the first year of operations.

Goh said a S$4bil (RM9.57bil) credit facility to fund the project was secured last April. It was one of the largest syndicated credit deals undertaken in Singapore and was completed in less than four months, he said.

Underwritten by five local and international banks, the successful and swift process of securing the credit facility reflects the support and vote of confidence that the banks and financial institutions have in RWS,” Goh added.

He said the company had awarded most of the major construction contracts for the resort.

“To date, we have awarded S$3bil (RM7.18bil) worth of contracts, including those for Universal Studios, four hotels, the casino, and FestiveWalk,” he said.

Goh said Malaysia remained one of RWS’s priority markets.

“We are reviewing our pricing and packages, taking into account the price-sensitivity of the market and the current economic situation,” he said. The rates and packages would be revealed later in the year, he added.

By The Star (by Eileen Hee)

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