James Packer and Crown Casino Project batting in Sri Lanka FOR Sri Lanka

I: Projected Crown Casino Resort in Colombo: see Crown Sri Lanka Video at http://vimeo.com/74177676

II: “Sri Lanka among greatest nations in world for investment,” – Packer … HDH Seneviratne in Daily News, 14 November 2013

JAMES PACKERSri Lanka could be turned into a leading tourist mecca for the rising middle class of India, China and the rest of Asia, Australian business tycoon James Packer said. He said he was committed to providing an opportunity to develop the country as a base and destination for mass, luxury and business tourism through his company Crown Resorts and his “plans to establish an integrated resort right here in Colombo on the Beira Lake”. “Sri Lanka is among the greatest in the world for foreign investments and tourism with the dawn of peace and tranquility in the country, Packer, Chairman of Crown Limited Australia, said at the Commonwealth Business Forum.

The event which took place at the Cinnamon Grand yesterday will continue till November 14, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Commonwealth Business Forum was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo. “Sri Lanka is now poised to take international stage as one of the world’s most unique and exciting global destinations. The government is wisely investing in its people, giving them the opportunity to participate in an emerging economy. The country’s major infrastructure rollout is having an impact in all provinces and is being successfully delivered,” he said. “Sri Lanka has all the ingredients to become a tourist hub in the region because it has the macro economic stability, political stability, strong leadership and infrastructure level in the country,” he said.

Colombo has always been a great trading and maritime city, and of course was part of the old spice route.  But I believe that now, along with the rest of the country, it has the potential to become one of the region’s great destinations for business, tourism and investment, ” he said . “Sri Lanka is a country that has shown great resilience, ingenuity and character over much of its history. It has been forced to overcome much hardship, hardship that would test the mettle of the strongest and most stable nations,” he said.

He said in 2010, the IMF upgraded Sri Lanka to a middle income country and Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic environment remains strong. The country has experienced three successive years of strong GDP growth of 8.0 percent in 2010, 8.2percent in 2011 and 6.4 percent in 2012. Just as positive, in 2010 Sri Lanka’s GDP per capita was estimated at US$ 5,500 and by 2012 had risen to approximately US$ 6,200, he said.

Most impressively, the Sri Lankan Government has a plan to deliver this growth across all parts of the country through a significant infrastructure building program and large inflows of foreign direct investment….. you only need to drive into the city along the new Airport Expressway or the Southern Highway to Galle to appreciate the work that is taking place. He said that Sri Lanka has one of the highest literacy rates in South Asia at 91.2 percent and a well-developed education and vocational training system. The country has a large pool of skilled and semi-skilled workers, highly regarded for their precision, quality and productivity.

“The Sri Lankan workforce is also renowned for high caliber professional skills. For example Sri Lanka has the second largest pool in the world of UK qualified Accountants (25,000) and Accountancy students (86,000),” Packer said. “If Sri Lanka is to achieve its potential to become ”a leading tourist destination or the rising middle class of India, China and the rest of Asia the right infrastructure for the country is absolutely necessary,” he said. He said Sri Lanka’s proximity to India could provide a similar opportunity as a growing proportion of India’s population becomes wealthy.

”The demographic changes we are seeing in India and China are extraordinary. The size of the middle class in India currently stands at around 170 million; and is estimated to be growing by 40 to 50 million per annum over the near term,” Packer said. “As with China, the rising affluence of India’s middle class population means more of their spend will go on leisure activities. Around 50 million people will travel overseas by 2020 compared to just 4 million in 2000,” Packer added.

The Chinese middle class will profoundly alter every aspect of the world economy.” As with China, the rising affluence of India’s middle class population means more of their spending With will go on leisure activities. Around 50 million people will travel overseas by 2020 compared to just four million in 2000, according to Packer. “With the emergence of both Indian and Chinese markets, Sri Lanka could shine as a major tourist destination in the region for medium to long term perspective,” Packer added.

– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/local/sri-lanka-among-greatest-nations-world-investment-packer#sthash.OieWITbC.dpuf

III: Packer says why he is betting his money on Lanka

Aussie Casino mogul James Packer explaining why he is betting  his money on Sri Lanka told the Commonwealth Business Forum among other things  that the country possessed the second largest pool in the world of UK qualified  accountants and accountancy students

PACKER plus casino“The last CHOGM Conference in 2011 was held in one of my  favourite Australian cities, the great city of Perth. For those of you who were in attendance there, I am sure you  will agree that Perth is a city on the rise; it is one of the great developing  destinations of the Asia-Pacific region and has enormous potential. But this success hasn’t come easy for Perth. Over the past  decade the city and local authorities have worked very hard to make the city a  destination for trade, commerce and tourism. Perth has strived to become a  global hub for business and the city took the hard decisions to build targeted  tourism infrastructure to lure global travellers.

I am very happy to say, when I visit Colombo and Sri Lanka, I  feel that same sense of momentum, optimism and positive energy.

Sri Lanka is a country that is growing in confidence every day.  This is my fifth trip to Sri Lanka in the past two years and every time I visit,  I am more impressed by the continual improvements in infrastructure and the  rising living standards of its people.

Colombo has always been a great trading and maritime city, and  of course was part of the old spice route. But I believe that now, along with  the rest of the country, it has the potential to become one of the region’s  great destinations for business, tourism and investment.

Sri Lanka is a country that has shown great resilience,  ingenuity and character over much of its history. It has been forced to overcome  much hardship, hardship that would test the mettle of the strongest and most  stable nations. But overcome it they have….. and now it is Sri Lanka’s time to  shine on the world stage and I say- deservedly so.

Economically, Sri Lanka has come a long way in a short time  frame; it is only a few years back that the country was stricken by conflict,  but now Sri Lanka’s economy is growing strongly, taking advantage of its great  strengths and on a pathway to fulfil its great potential.

I have always believed the greatest test of any nation or  government; is how they provide

economically for their citizens. Economic development is one of  the key building blocks of life.

If an economy is growing strongly, it delivers jobs for its  citizens, allowing them to provide the necessities they require for human  development……shelter, food, clothes, schooling and most importantly the great  hope that each parent has for their children; to have a better quality of life,  full of hope and opportunity.

On this test, Sri Lanka and its Government led by His Excellency  President Rajapaksa are delivering strongly. In all my meetings with the  Government authorities, they have stressed that the employment and living  standards of their citizens is their number one goal and they are working  assiduously towards achieving this ambition through economic participation.

In 2010, the IMF upgraded Sri Lanka to a middle income country  and Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic environment remains strong. The country has  experienced three successive years of strong GDP growth of 8.0% in 2010, 8.2% in  2011 and 6.4% in 2012. Just as positive, in 2010 Sri Lanka’s GDP per capita was  estimated at US$ 5,500 and by 2012 had risen to approximately US$ 6,200.

Most impressively, the Sri Lankan Government has a plan to  deliver this growth across all parts of the country through a significant  infrastructure building program and large inflows of foreign direct  investment….. you only need to drive into the city along the new Airport  Expressway or the Southern Highway to Galle to appreciate the work that is  taking place.

I believe Sri Lanka because of this good work, combined with its  central location, natural beauty, unique culture and educated workforce has all  the ingredients and is poised for great success.

Let me briefly discuss some of these comparative advantages that  make Sri Lanka a 21st century destination for business.

Sri Lanka’s geographic location in the Indian Ocean makes it  extremely well positioned for business. The country is connected to major  shipping and air routes to the east and west and the successful redevelopment of  the country’s port and airport infrastructure, including a new international  airport at Hambantota has provided capacity for future growth, and the potential  to turn Sri Lanka into a serious maritime and aviation hub.

Sri Lanka now receives daily flights from across Asia; including  direct flights from the leading cities of India, as well as….. Bangkok, Jakarta,  Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and the major cities of the Middle East.

But business is always first and foremost about human capital  and its here that Sri Lanka provides outstanding opportunity.

Sri Lanka has one of the highest literacy rates in South Asia at  91.2% and a well-developed education and vocational training system. The country  has a large pool of skilled and semi-skilled workers, highly regarded for their  precision, quality and productivity. The Sri Lankan workforce is also renowned  for high calibre professional skills. For example Sri Lanka has the second  largest pool in the world of UK qualified Accountants (25,000) and Accountancy  students (86,000).

What this all adds up to is opportunity…. the opportunity to  work with a pro-growth country eager to encourage foreign investment, combined  with the skills base and natural assets to give business a regional advantage…..  this really is a destination on the move.

I’ll now speak to you about one of the business opportunities I  believe could turn Sri Lanka into a leading tourist mecca for the rising middle  class of India, China and the rest of Asia. An opportunity to develop the  country as a base and destination for mass, luxury and business tourism;  something I am committed to through my company Crown Resorts and our plans to  establish an integrated resort, right here in Colombo on the Beira Lake.

Lonely Planet recently rated Sri Lanka the “number one country  to visit in 2013” and they are absolutely right. This island nation has a  pristine coastline, a unique culture and heritage, and is easy to access.

The Sri Lankan government has done an impressive job promoting  tourism infrastructure in the west of the country and now in the east. A  significant number of major international hotel and resort companies are looking  to establish projects in Colombo and other parts of the country.

The Sri Lankan tourist authorities have recognized this  potential and have set the very ambitious tourism target of attracting over 2.5  million tourist arrivals by 2016.

This is a worthy goal, but it will require tourist arrivals to  grow by a massive 24% annually from 2011 to 2016 on a compounded basis.

I believe with the demographic shifts taking place in India and  China, it is achievable. But it is only achievable with the right tourism  infrastructure and attractions.

Now is the time for Sri Lanka and all countries to understand  the tourism opportunity emerging in Asia, and to work hard to meet the market  with the right tourism offering.

The demographic changes we are seeing in India and China are  extraordinary.

The size of the middle class in India currently stands at around  170 million; and is estimated to be growing by 40 to 50 million per annum over  the near term. According to a McKinsey study, if India continues on its current  high-growth path, the Indian market is likely to undergo a major transformation  over the coming decade. Income levels are expected to almost triple and the size  of India’s middle class population base could swell to 580 million by 2025. With the rising affluence of India’s middle class population,  spending patterns in the country are evolving with leisure related purchases  capturing a larger proportion of consumer spending.

One of the major shifts taking place is in relation to outbound  tourism. In the year 2000, only 4 million Indians travelled abroad, this is growing  rapidly. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, India’s  outbound travel market is now estimated to reach 50 million people by 2020.  Therein providing major opportunity for Sri Lanka and nearby neighbours.

China’s growth story is even more progressed. China has now lifted 500  million of its citizens out of poverty in a very short timeframe and this rise  in living standards is the key to the development of a new demographic…. a  group of people that will have a profound impact on global economic growth for  decades to come… the Chinese middle class.

China’s middle class are changing the world. There are over 300 million middle class consumers in China today – equal to  almost the entire population of the USA….…and by 2030, China is expected to have 1.4 billion middle class consumers.  To put this in perspective, it is forecast that the combined US and European  middle class population will only be about 780 million at the same point in  time. Through their spending power and tastes, this Chinese middle class will  profoundly alter every aspect of the world economy. Those businesses and  countries that move now will have a significant advantage in the future.

When it comes to tourism, China’s outbound travel market is one of the  fastest growing in the world, as the middle class spend increasing amounts of  money on their preferred leisure activity…. luxury travel. In the year 2000, just over 10 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad. In  2011, this number has risen to 70 million people, an increase of 566%. Chinese  outbound travel is now estimated to reach a staggering 100 million people by  2015.

While the tourism opportunities from China are incredibly large, unless  tourism operators and authorities appreciate exactly what the rising Chinese  middle class wants, and unless we can cater for their desires, then we have  little hope of taking advantage of this opportunity. A 2011 McKinsey study into the consumption habits of China’s middle class  found that the rapid increases in wealth, and the shifting social conventions  that sanction the display of that wealth, are driving a growing infatuation for  luxury goods.

The study found that by 2015 China will account for 20% of the global luxury  goods market. No one should be in any doubt, the wealthy Chinese middle class want luxury  travel, luxury hotels, signature restaurants, quality entertainment, gaming,  casinos and high-end retail. These factors explain why Chinese tourists prefer visiting major cities,  where they can enjoy these luxury experiences. It also explains why they are  attracted to luxury integrated resorts, which meet all of their travel needs  under one roof. To make this point, Dr Mark Faber, a well-known US investment analyst, found  that “80% of Chinese travelling outside the country for the first time head for  a casino and 90% of Chinese who travel to the US visit Las Vegas”.

Singapore provides a case study in how a country, which delivers iconic  luxury hotel resorts with gaming as a component, can benefit immensely by  attracting a much greater share of Chinese and Asian tourists. Ten years ago the Singapore Government had concerns regarding their flat  inbound tourist numbers with visitors not staying long enough and complaints  from some tourists that the country had nothing new to offer. Singapore’s market share of Asia Pacific travel had declined from 8% in 1998  to 6% in 2002, and the average length of stay for tourists in Singapore was down  from four days in 1991 to three days in 2002.

Key members of the Government were determined to develop and implement a  strategy, which would turn this trend around and make Singapore one of Asia’s  and the world’s key tourist destinations. In 2004, the Singapore authorities decided to build two of the world’s  largest integrated resorts with an extremely diverse range of leisure and  entertainment activities, including casinos.

Resorts World Sentosa was the first of Singapore’s integrated resorts to open  in January 2010. The second resort, Marina Bay Sands, opened in April 2010. The  observation deck and infinity pool, which are located on top of the Marina Bay  Sands hotel, are now instantly recognisable images around the world. Just two years after the opening of these two integrated resorts, Singapore  began reaping economic and employment benefits beyond anyone’s expectations.

In 2010, the year the integrated resorts opened, Singapore’s GDP increased by  14.5%. That year, the two integrated resorts contributed approximately S$3.7  billion (A$2.9 billion) to Singapore’s GDP, making up approximately 1.7% of GDP. The integrated resorts have also made a significant contribution to  employment growth by directly employing over 22,000 people and supporting more  than 40,000 jobs throughout the Singaporean economy.

Singapore has been able to successfully tap into the Chinese tourism market – receiving 1.5 million Chinese visitors in 2011, an increase of 34.7% on 2010 and  a 68% increase on 2009 before the integrated resorts opened. Just as importantly, the increased tourism revenue the resorts have  generated, have provided a benefit to the entire tourism industry more broadly.  Overall hotel occupancy has increased over the last three years, averaging  85-87%, compared to 76% in 2009, before the integrated resorts were built.

While visiting Australia in late 2012, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr  Lee, spoke about the success of the integrated resorts in Singapore stating; “Business-wise [the integrated resorts] have done very well. Revenue-wise the  government has done very well. From an urban planning point of view, it has done  a lot for our skyline…it’s helped our image enormously.” The Prime Minister went on to say it became imperative to build the two  projects or lose out to rival jurisdictions in the region; “As the world was developing, as the business was developing, the casino  became the integrated resort business—not just making it a place to gamble” Singapore has shown that cities and countries can establish sophisticated  tourism infrastructure that meets the emerging Asian market and maintains the  characteristics of its population.

Sri Lanka is now poised to take the international stage as one of the world’s  most unique and exciting global destinations. The government is wisely investing  in its people, giving them the opportunity to participate in an emerging  economy. The country’s major infrastructure rollout is having an impact in all  provinces and is being successfully delivered.

For business, these improvements and Sri Lanka’s natural strengths make the  country an appealing place to do business in. As a company, we are excited about the opportunity to invest here and thank  the Board of Investment for the work they have undertaken to make Crown’s  proposed project a possibility. Sri Lanka is a modern economy, growing strongly with a very professional  approach to business and foreign investment. For all these reasons, I believe it is Sri Lanka’s time to shine in Asia and  I urge you all to consider this great country and these great people as a  destination for your business.

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