Cyprus’ First Casino Resort Instrumental For Nation’s Tourism Product, Minister Says

Melco CEO visits Cyprus to brief tourism officials on performance of nation’s first casinos and plans about the future full-scale integrated resort in Limassol

Cyprus’ first casino resort is of great importance to the island’s tourism product, Savvas Perdios, the tiny Mediterranean nation’s first dedicated minister for tourism, said after a Thursday meeting with Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho.

Melco and its Cypriot partner Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) Ltd. were selected as the winning bidders for the development of City of Dreams Mediterranean, Cyprus’ first integrated casino resort. Under the terms of their gaming license from local authorities, Melco and its partner are to build and operate a main resort in the city of Limassol and four satellite casinos around the Republic of Cyprus.

Melco launched last summer a temporary casino that will remain operational until the main resort is being developed. Last month, the company and its local partner opened satellite casinos in the capital Nicosia and at Larnaca International Airport. All three facilities operate under the Cyprus Casinos (C2) brand.

Local news outlets reported that Minister Perdios met with Melco’s CEO, Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho, earlier this week to discuss details about the main resort, the construction of which is expected to commence next month. Mr. Ho also briefed the tourism official about how the already operational facilities have been performing.

Important Contributor

Commenting on the newest additions to Cyprus’ tourism product, Minister Perdios said that Melco and its casinos are “an important contributor” to the nation’s tourism industry and that they would help it cement its reputation as a “popular and must-visit destination”.

Mr. Ho stressed his company’s commitment to the integrated casino resort project, saying that the tiny Mediterranean nation “has all the prerequisites to enhance its reputation as a regional and global premium destination” and to “emerge as a genuine point of reference for

luxury tourism and responsible gaming.”

The billionaire businessman also noted that their property will benefit Cyprus’ economy in an extraordinary manner, bringing a positive impact on the country’s GDP and tackling unemployment.

As mentioned earlier, Melco expects to begin construction work on the Limassol-based resort next month. The company targets 2021 opening of the property. Aside from a casino, it will also feature a hotel, meeting and convention facilities, food and beverage outlets, and multiple attractions. The future property has been billed as Europe’s largest integrated resort.

Melco originally announced plans to invest €550 million in its Cypriot project. However, property President Craig Ballantyne said recently that the company and its local partner have decided to up their investment. It is still unknown how much exactly the developers will spend on the resort.

Once fully operational, City of Dreams Mediterranean is expected to annually attract 300,000 international visitors to the island nation and to contribute €700 million to Cyprus’ economy after year two of operation.

First Dedicated Ministry

Early this month, Mr. Perdios was sworn in as Cyprus’ first Deputy Minister for Tourism to head the island nation’s newly formed Deputy Ministry for Tourism. The new ministry has taken over the responsibilities of the Cyprus Tourism Organization.

Led by Mr. Pedrios, the tourism ministry will have to develop strategies to enhance the country’s tourism product and tackle issues, including seasonality. Cyprus is a popular summer vacation spot, but officials and tourism industry stakeholders have been looking to change that and turn the Mediterranean island into a year-round destination.

While tourism revenue figures are yet to be released, it is believed that income from tourism accounted for 13% of the nation’s gross domestic product last year.

Cyprus smashed tourist arrival numbers last year, welcoming more than 3.9 million international visitors. The figure reported represented a whooping 7.8% increase from 2017. Great Britain was the island nation’s largest market for another year. As many as 1.32 million Brits traveled to Cyprus last year, up nearly 6% year-on-year. There was a surge in the number of Swedish visitors. A total of 153,760 Swedes visited the island last year, up 12.5% from 2017.

Russia with 783,631 visitors and Israel with 232,561 visitors represented Cyprus’ second and third largest markets in 2018, figures showed.

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