Clark’s MICE aims to give new impetus to the casino center

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The Philippines Department of Tourism is seeking to position the Clark Free Zone as a destination for MICE with its sister city designated for sports tourism, which could give a boost to the region’s already thriving casino industry.

The Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) is located in central Luzon, approximately 100 km north of the capital Manila. The area is built on a former US airbase, which provided a solid foundation for the city’s infrastructure. The larger Clark Special Economic Zone is home to New Clark City, which has a population of approximately 1.2 million.

The area is well served by a motorway link to the capital and a new airport terminal which opened in May with a capacity of eight million passengers.

The CFZ is already home to some 1,153 companies. It has 80 convention halls, 3,648 hotel rooms, 126 restaurants and 45 tourist attractions such as Clark Safari, Clark Bike Path, Clark Museum and Theatre, Aqua Planet, Clark International Speedway and Dinosaurs Island.

“With the help of the private sector, the goal is to transform the CFZ into a preferred business and tourism destination in the Asia-Pacific region and enable investors to find long-term economic returns,” said Caroline Uy. , regional director of the Ministry of Tourism. as local media reported following a tourism investment summit in June.

The area is also one of the areas that the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has designated as a casino center and currently has six casinos in operation.

Before the 2019 pandemic, casinos in the area generated PHP12.17 billion ($227 million) in gross gambling revenue, compared to PHP167.17 billion generated by properties in Manila’s entertainment city. However, in terms of growth over the previous year, Clark far exceeded the capital with a gain of 48%, compared to 18%.

Scott Feeney, Director, GCG

“Clark now has its world-class airport and is well set up to capture at least 10% of the overall Philippine market with recovery this year,” said Scott Feeney, director of GCG Gaming Advisory Services.

As with all casinos in the Philippines, the area boasts a strong base of local players. Now the country is also seeing the return of tourists, with Clark having long been a favorite in the Korean market, drawn by the lure of its multiple golf courses.

“Korean investors are involved in Midori Hotel & Casino, D’Heights and Hann Casino and are doing exceptionally well beyond competing Fontana, Royce and Casablanca casino properties,” Feeney said.

Area casinos tend to be $1-2 billion properties and won’t be able to compete head-to-head with Entertainment City’s sprawling integrated resorts in terms of hotels, gaming space, and retail offerings by retail.

But Feeney says they offer a “fantastic selection of casino resorts in a stunning location” that Manila’s casinos cannot offer.

“On the playing field, EGMs have always been a big force with 35% of the total GGR, along with mass and premium tabletop games with locals, expat community, dual citizens of Japan, China and Korea, also fundamental to their success. ”

The region’s casinos are estimated to generate between $180 million and $200 million in GGR this year, with the newly renovated Hann Casino potentially taking up to 50% of the market share, he adds.

“Clark seems like the obvious place for exponential growth.”

The Philippines is expected to be the fastest growing casino market in Asia this year with strong pent-up demand from locals coupled with a gradual increase in tourist traffic.

Outside of Entertainment City, Clark is considered the top performer due to its international connectivity and critical mass of existing casinos.

Elsewhere in the Philippines, operators are also noting increased activity levels.

David Lawrence, general manager of the casino at Thunderbird Resorts said he expects further recovery as flight schedules are accelerated and other countries reduce their quarantine requirements.

The company operates a casino in Rizalnear Manila, and a Spanish-style resort town on the west coast at Point Poro.

“While we see these major hubs continuing to grow, other destinations such as ours also have a place in the market due to their unique designs and locations,” he said. , referring to Clark and Cebu.

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