Friday, June 26, 2009

60% of Sentosa IR will be ready when it opens

THE Sentosa integrated resort (IR) is all set to throw open its doors in the first quarter of next year – but visitors will not get to see the finished product.

When the resort opens, just 60 per cent of it will be ready: four hotels, the casino, the Universal Studios theme park, the theatre and the retail and dining area.

Construction of the other attractions at the 49ha resort – including the world’s largest oceanarium, a marine museum and two more hotels – will begin next year and is slated for completion by 2012.

Giving an update on the progress of the IR yesterday, Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) executive vice-president of projects Michael Chin said some 80 per cent of construction for the first phase of the resort has been completed.

What remain to be done are exterior works and outfitting the rides for the theme park.

This should be completed by August.

After that, the resort will be testing the rides and other amenities, and getting staff up to speed on operations.

Asked about prices for the rides, the resort’s head of communications Krist Boo declined to give details. But she said that charges would be kept ‘affordable’ and that they would be competitive when compared with other theme parks.

She added that prices would be comparable and likely cheaper, dollar-for-dollar, than those at Universal Studios’ other parks in Orlando and Osaka, where day passes go for US$70 (S$100) and 6,000 yen (S$90), respectively.

Ms Boo acknowledged that there are some clouds on the horizon for the IR.

Because of the tough economic times, the resort would have to slash its visitor forecast for the first year from 15 million to 12 million, she said.

She added that it had also lowered the expected growth rate of returns on investment for the $6.59 billion project by one to two percentage points from the previously projected 15 per cent.

Spending by visitors is also expected to be less, she said, but did not elaborate.

Also, there are no takers for some of the retail space at the resort.

‘To be honest, the retail landscape is a little challenging now,’ she said.

Despite these concerns, however, the Sentosa IR is still confident of pulling in large crowds.

‘For visitors in this region, they don’t have to travel too far to enjoy a world-class attraction,’ she noted.

The resort’s main target will be visitors from countries within a seven-hour flight range of Singapore.

The exact date of the IR’s opening is expected to be firmed up by the end of the year.

Singapore’s other IR, the Marina Bay Sands, is also scheduled to open in stages, with the first opening expected at the end of this year.

Source: Straits Times, 26 June 2009

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