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Packer Crown Casino Whale Talks Tourism, by Greg Tingle
- 19th March 2011
foremost gambling tycoon, James Packer, is growing
tied of the Australian government's lack of action
in improving the tourism sector, which in return effects
his casino tourism arm, with the high rollers, schools
of "whales", super dolphins and the like
tipping to be swimming more for oriental waters, rather
than down under Pacific Ocean way. Yep, that's the
general school of thought.
is continuing a roaring trade in the casino and resort
tourism dollar, and insiders think this this may be
beginning to really snatch away some potential business
from Melbourne's Crown Casino and Burswood, which
now boasts two of the most valuable and profitable
integrated casino resorts in the world, Packer says
the time for talk is over.
of the problems for state and federal governments
of both political persuasions in Australia is that
no one sets any key performance indicators for tourism,"
he told Rupert Murdoch publication, The Weekend Australian.
lets people muddle about on things with good intentions
without ever actually making the rubber hit the road.
Whereas in Singapore, it is all about the rubber hitting
are a country that used to get the same number of
tourists as Australia, around 5 million. They are
now at 11 million tourists. We are at 5 million. And
they have stated publicly that they have an aim and
ambition that they will receive 17 million tourists
has bragging rights of 13 consecutive months of record
visitor numbers, achieving its highest visitor arrivals
for a single month in December with 1.1 million visitors,
16% up on last year.
tip the main attribute in seeing Singapore's big numbers
is last year's launch of the $4.4 billion Resorts
World Sentosa casino and the $5.94bn Marina Bay Sands,
the second most expensive casino in the world.
casino resorts are understood to have accounted for
1.7% of Singapore's nominal gross domestic product
last year when GDP leap frogged 14.7%.
has a few more reasons than the average Joe to be
a bit worried about the rise of the Singapore dragons
(no offence to dragons, including dragons in training
or Singaporeans). Singapore is writing the "who
to" book and blueprint on casino tourism, just
when many experts thought Macau were the experts.
Singapore dragons wrath on the regional casino market
gave birth to an 8% dip in VIP turnover at Packer's
two dinkum Aussie casinos, Crown in Melbourne and
Burswood in Perth, in the 6 months to December 31.
Burswood really felt the pain, with VIP whale revenue
down 14.3% compared with Crown's 5.5 % dive.
states 15% of its casino revenues comes from high-rollers.
That's a considerable amount.
points to the way Australia sells itself to the world,
and specifically affluent Asians, as a tourist destination,
and he chooses his words carefully.
are not saying it is the government's fault. We are
saying we would like to work with the government to
try and make Australia a more attractive and compelling
and successful tourism destination".
recent Japanese natural disasters, along with our
our own floods and cyclones in Queensland, are expected
to put increased pressure on Japanese tourism, the
fifth-largest provider of inbound tourists to Australia
behind New Zealand, Britain, the US and China.
all thought the Oprah exercise (where Tourism Australia
last year paid $1.5m for 100 minutes of US exposure
on Oprah Winfrey's TV chat show) was fantastic, but
when I was in America just recently I saw an advertisement
with three Americans in a Land Rover driving around
a paddock watching kangaroos. And I thought to myself,
it is a lovely image but to be kind, it is very niche,"
says Crown wants more from what he terms his "silent
total taxes we paid last year to the three levels
of government...federal, state and municipal...was
well over double our net profit after tax. We believe
we are investing in our businesses, providing the
government with an excellent economic return for our
licences and we also think we are working hard to
ensure that our other stakeholders benefit from our
business," he says.
government is doing very well being the silent majority
partner of our company and we are competing against
some of the biggest and most successful companies
in the world and what we are trying to do is bring
more people to Australia to spend money and conduct
economic activity here."
and competitor Tabcorp Holdings, owner of 'Sin City'
Sydney's Star City and the Gold Coast's Jupiters casinos,
are spending billions of dollars on big capital expenditure
programs, including revamped VIP gaming facilities,
hotels, lear jets and more.
impression is that we have spent more on capital expenditure
in the past five years than any non-mining industrial
company in Australia," Packer says. "I think
there is a perception out there that these businesses
are licences to print money. They are terrific businesses,
but they are not that. These businesses have a very
significant ongoing capex requirement, which places
limits on the real cash available to be returned to
not particularly well known fact is that last year,
Crown received the Employer of the Year award at the
Australian Government's Australian Training Awards.
call for a more integrated tourism strategy for Australia
is fully supported by Tourism Australia chairman and
ex Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon, who is also
on the Crown board. "While I am obviously a director
of Crown, it doesn't change the fact that our integrated
resorts in Australia must be competitive with those
in Asia, especially Singapore," Dixon says.
is not just about Crown, it is about...the other integrated
resort casinos within Australia."
Crown and Tabcorp are seeking is additional assistance
from government and the private sector on co-ordinating
visa access and improving facilities at airports for
VIP high roller tourists.
Singapore, high rolling whales are greeted by officials
at Changi airport, and promptly escorted through a
private lounge area for fast-tracked customs and immigration
have started some initial discussions with Melbourne
and Perth airports, and they are quite interested
in the concept," says Crown chief executive Rowen
Craigie. He advised there have been communications
with government and the state and federal tourism
authorities. "The doors seem to be open,"
he says confidently.
Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson agrees casinos have
an important role to play in the nation's tourism
strategies, as well he should, but he states there
needs to be more research before major decisions are
taken that affect the sector.
attract high-yield visitors that spend on average
double that of other international visitors,"
both our marketing efforts such as the $150m global
'There's Nothing Like Australia' campaign and the
National Long Term Tourism Strategy, we will continue
to work closely with casinos, airlines, hotels, tour
operators and the many other hundreds of thousands
of small businesses in the tourism sector to ensure
Australia remains competitive as a tourism destination.
requires encouraging investment in new stock, finding
the right staff and reducing barriers to their employment
in the sector, while providing comprehensive research
to allow informed decisions to be taken."
and restaurant owner Neil Perry, also a mate and business
associate of Packer, whose "lucky" seven
Australian restaurants include outlets at Crown and
I am focused on local clientele, we need a good mix
of international tourists to keep this business vibrant,"
tourists account for $2.8bn to the Australian tourism
industry and by 2017 analysts expect that market will
be worth about $5.5bn.
Singapore and Malaysia are also developing markets
January, Chinese tourists jumped 63% for the month,
largely a spin off from Chinese New Year celebrations
falling in February. Hong Kong visits were up 26%
and Malaysia 25%.
times like these Packer must be glad his had a global
strategy in place, and is not totally at the mercy
of the Australian market.
and his time are also further developing online gaming
and revenue aspects of Crown Limited, as well as getting
his 50% Betfair better stocked with more online gaming
offerings, acutely aware of recession resistance online
based businesses like PartyGaming and also watching
his mate, Richard Branson, take his airline, tourism,
communication and gaming business to the next level.
bet against Packer, but the smart money from betting
agencies says that its safe to bet against the Australian
state and federal government - with Labor set to fall,
and a new and motivated Liberal - Nationals coalition
ready to impress the people and the business sector
Media Man spokesperson said 'There's no doubt that
the Oprah Winfrey effect has some positive spin off
for Australian tourism, certainly awareness leaped.
Just hoe much different was made to the bottom line
thanks to O is unclear. James Packer makes a good
point about Australian tourism. We have a lot more
to offer than just kangaroos. Bondi Beach is great,
but so are casinos like Crown and Burswood, and our
sports tourism and events are always, and how about
our Aboriginal heritage. We are world class. More
people need to help give the Australian government
the message. Casinos are an idea place to help keep
things going in the right direction, with all of the
tourists, smart money and entertainment to be found."
Magazine Rejects James Packer Interview Rumour...
Media Group, publishers of the influential and highly-regarded
business publication, The CEO Magazine, have today
refused to confirm reports that The CEO Magazine will
be conducting an exclusive interview with Australian
businessman, James Packer. The CEO Magazine is Australia's
leading business magazine focused directly at high-level
executives in Australian companies. The CEO Magazine
is a bi-monthly title that provides its readers with
a wealth of articles discussing business strategy,
expert opinion, analysis, corporate case studies,
emerging trends, leadership, growth opportunities
and challenges facing our country's leading business
leaders. The CEO Magazine explores how Australian
businesses can improve the way they manage their operations,
staff, technology and supply chains with a view to
creating a more profitable and successful business.
Whilst The CEO Magazine is extremely meticulous in
selection for interviews within the title, rumours
of a one-on-one interview with James Packer have surfaced
this week. "Due to the high profile nature of
The CEO Magazine, it is impossible for us to confirm
who will be included in upcoming magazines until publication
date. Content is kept strictly between the publisher
and any leading senior executive that have been chosen
for selection," said a spokesperson for publisher,
Bean Media Group. The next issue of The CEO Magazine
is due out next month. About The CEO Magazine, Australia's
leading business title specifically for high-level
and senior executives. The publisher of The CEO Magazine
is Bean Media Group, a multi-award-winning media company
based in Sydney, Australia
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