IAG June 2014 - page 7

June2014
inside
asiangaming
7
at 600,000, 700,000, 800,000Chinese
tourists. Then the biggame changer—and
this is the somewhere between amillion- and
abillion-dollar question—is if we canget
landing visas or visas on arrival inManila for
Chinese. Absolute game-changer. Currently,
youneed to apply for a visabefore you travel
to thePhilippines and it takes about seven
days toprocess. So it’s a little bit of apain.
Mywife and I, she’sChinese, wedidn’t travel
to thePhilippines until last year.We’ve been
toThailand 15, 20 times. You canget a visa
on arrival there. So in terms of convenience
and theperceptionof thewholeprocess it’s
amassive thing. If youget visaon arrival
Chinesepeople cango toManila every
weekend if theywanted. They can stay for
30days probably. It’ll be a lot easier togo
toManila than it will togo toMacau. And
when that starts to sink in it’s aphenomenal
game-changer for us. Imean, junkets, just
think about junkets. They’re going to say,
“Hey, you know, we’re chartering aplane,
we’reheadingoffonFriday, why don’t you
comedown for theweekend?” I don’t have
togo through theprocess, go andgetmy
passport, getmy secretary togodown to the
consulate, pay somemoney, all that hassle.
So thepotential upside is incredible.We’re
modeling everythingonnot getting landing
visas. But it’s in everyone’s interest, including
the economy of thePhilippines. And certainly
theAndrewTans andK.T. Lims andRicky
Razons andHenry Sy and LawrenceHo,
they’renot going tobe against pushing
through something like landing visas. It helps
all of us andhelps tourism in thePhilippines
aswell, Imean,massively.
When is thisexpected tocomeabout?
I don’t know.We certainly havehad
discussionswith the regulators about it.
We’vehaddiscussions internally at the
highest levelswithinour company. There
are some geopolitical things goingon in the
wholeof Southeast Asia. That said, thewhole
of theworld is looking for Chinese tourism
to save them in terms of creating some
revenues and some taxation. I think it’s a
path that everyone’s sort ofmoving toward.
It’s a questionof timing really.
Solairehas targeted theChinesehighend
withmixed results. Is that aconcern?
I don’t know if I want to comment on the
mistakes theymade. I’d rather focus onhow
we’re aiming todo things, andhow I think
that’s the right way of doing things. They
were a littleone-dimensional when they
opened.Not thatmany restaurants.One
Chinese restaurant andonenoodle joint in
the casino. For Chinese, food is critical. You
know this. Andone restaurant’s just not
going to cut it. Therewas very little retail. So
peoplewho took theirwives or girlfriends,
therewas nothing for them todo. The spa
didn’t open. Sowhat are they going todo?
They sit around andgo, “Takeme toHong
Kong.” or “Takemehome, Daddy.” I don’t
think they had abignetwork.We’re aiming
on, focusingonKorea, Japan, China, Taiwan,
Singapore,Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia,
Vietnam.We reallywant tohavepeoplewith
relationships in all of thosemarkets andhave
a super-strong internationalmarketing team.
We’re absolutely gunning for that.
So junketswill playabig role?
Junkets are key.We’ve been talkingwith
junkets for the sixmonths I’ve beenhere.
Wewant toget some feedback:We’ve been
trying tobuild those relationships formore
than 18months, really, two years out. And
I thinkwith the junkets the relationship is
key. Theother stuff is going to fall intoplace.
We’ve got 15% tax on junket tables.Now it’s
5%, but youpay the corporate tax, it works
out the same.Macau is 39%. Sowe’re going
tobe able tooffer better programs than you
can inMacau.When the road infrastructure
is completed, which is going tobe before
weopen, it’s going tobe fine. The big thing
is, I expect, when LawrenceHoopens his
doors inManila, he’s the sonof DoctorHo,
who’s a legend inChina, I think that’s going
“The chairman isputtingaproperty together that is trulyan
integratedresort that’sgoing to stand shoulder to shoulderwith
anything inAsiaor theworld. I thinkwe’regoing tobe theflagship
of thearea. It’sgoing togrow thedomesticmarket.”
MattHurst
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