The $9 billion expansion of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) will create up to 5,000 new jobs directly and benefit local businesses, the Government said yesterday.
The new jobs are among other gains that the move to spice up Singapore’s tourism offerings will bring, including more tourists and a stronger hospitality sector, say academics and economists.
CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said tourist attractions “become stale” if they are not upgraded.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer Michael Chiam noted that it was time the two integrated resorts (IRs) refresh their offerings to stave off fatigue and create “a buzz and vibrancy to our tourism industry”.
The Government said yesterday that it was extending the exclusivity period for the casinos at MBS and RWS to operate until the end of 2030.
The resorts will pump in $9 billion in all to expand their non-gaming offerings in exchange for the extension.
Three more hotels, two new zones in theme park Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa and a 15,000-seat indoor arena are among their expansion plans.
The tourism sector is on the up: Total tourist arrivals last year rose 6.2 per cent to 18.5 million, while tourism receipts climbed 1 per cent to $27.1 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the Singapore Tourism Board in February.
Industry expert Wong King Yin from Nanyang Technological University said that while the sector is looking rosy, Singapore cannot rest on its laurels given the increasing competition in the region.
Dr Wong added that “Singapore will easily lose its competitive edge” if it does not refresh its tourism offerings.
“Visitors nowadays have a lot of choice,” she added, pointing out that countries in the region are “doing quite well” in drawing tourists.
Experts noted that the Government’s decision to expand the two IRs instead of allowing new operators is also a savvy move.
Mr Song said the head start that RWS and MBS have enjoyed will make it difficult for a new operator to break into the local market.
The two operators are “same but different” in that they both run casinos, but their non-gaming options appeal to different crowds, he added.
Mr Song pointed out that MBS has its high-end shops for the well-heeled, while RWS has a more family-friendly image with its theme park Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A. Aquarium.
He said: “With the new indoor arena, MBS is expanding on what its parent company Las Vegas Sands does best, attracting world-class productions.”
Expanding Universal Studios Singapore will draw a younger crowd to RWS, he added.
Mr Song noted: “The integrated resorts have delivered on their promise since they opened in 2010 and boosted Singapore’s tourism growth.”
He cited MBS being featured in Hollywood blockbuster movie Crazy Rich Asians last year.
“Just by branding alone, the integrated resorts have done their job (in promoting Singapore),” he said.
The resorts opened in 2010 and have generated about $5.5 billion for the economy.
They also directly employ about 20,000 people – more than 65 per cent of whom are locals – and support a further 40,000 jobs.
One-third of the jobs held by Singaporeans are positions for professionals, managers and executives.
RWS expects to add 2,800 new jobs, while MBS could employ 1,500 to 1,800 more staff with the expansion.
CREDITS: THE STRAITS TIMES