» Queensland Tourism Critical of Packer Casino Plans
Queensland Tourism Critical of Packer Casino Plans
Tuesday 24 April, 2012 16:16
James Packer has been forced to defend his Sydney Casino plans after they
came under criticism from the Tourism Queensland Chairman, Don Morris.
Packer argued that his $1 billion casino and hotel development plan for
Barangaroo in Sydney is necessary to help Australian tourism grow.
Mr. Morris, however, argued that he opposes the development of casinos in
Australia as a way to boost tourism, particularly their focus on Chinese
clientele. He claims that Chinese tourists are not lured by casinos.
"Instead, it's China's fascination with Australia's unique differences: the
clean air and beaches; the uncrowded space; the friendly people with their
relaxed, easygoing outdoors lifestyle; the unique quality of life - and food -
enjoyed by ordinary people; the un-spoilt natural environment; the world's
oldest indigenous culture; the icons of the Opera House and the Great Barrier
Reef; koalas, kangaroos and so on," argued Mr. Morris.
"None of this provides any evidence to support the contention that the most
affluent Chinese won't come to Australia without new, large scale casinos."
Mr. Packer disagreed with Mr. Morris and claimed that his casino and hotel
plans are a vital part of Australia achieving tourism growth targets. "We need
to be proactive and build high-quality hotels and infrastructure to complement
our country's beautiful natural assets or we will just squander more
opportunities in the future," said Packer.
Tourism Australia Chairman Supports Packer
Geoff Dixon, Tourism Australia Chairman and board member of Crown Casino
supported Mr. Packer's position, saying that Australia could do with "all the
help we can get."
Mr. Dixon claimed that the word "casino" was misleading and should be
replaced with the more general term, "integrated resorts."
"The Crown, Burswood and Star complexes are a lot more than casinos; they are
integrated resorts that provide some of the best restaurants, convention and
meeting facilities in Australia," he explained.
"I think casinos are part of the mix, particularly for the high-end Chinese
traveler and other Asian investors. They want all the things our research says,
such as the environment and good food, but also many of them do desire the
opportunity to visit casinos."
Mr. Packer further argued that Australia could not afford to be complacent
and assume that tourists would come for the natural beauty of the country alone.
"Competition has increased significantly and governments in the Asian region
such as Singapore, Macau, Vietnam and the Philippines have recognized the
importance of integrated resorts to grow tourism," he said.