4 players invest in RP’s biggest tourism project

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — COMPANIES from Japan, Malaysia, the British Virgin Islands and the Philippines have gained approval of their project concepts for the Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Manila Bay Integrated City, the country’s biggest tourism development project.

ARUZE Corporation, the Genting Berhad Group, Bloombury Investments Limited and locally-based SM Investments Corporation have gained approval from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which oversees and spearheads the project also considered the government’s biggest job-generating program.

Efraim C. Genuino, Pagcor board chairman and chief executive officer, announced this during the Gaming, Tourism and Investment Congress of the Asia’s Gaming and Entertainment plus Leisure Expo 2008 (Asia’s GEM) at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Malate, Manila.

The announcement dovetails with the Bagong Nayong Pilipino’s formal groundbreaking yesterday at the project site located along Macapagal Avenue in Parañaque City.

Genuino, who conceptualized the Integrated City project, said the companies with approved concepts for the Bagong Nayong Pilipino represent some of the world’s biggest names in the entertainment and leisure industries.

“This project represents Pagcor’s shift from mere gaming into wholesome, family-oriented recreation and entertainment. With this, we aim to make Pagcor the catalyst for economic progress and national development,” the chief of the state-run firm said.

As the country’s sole gaming regulator and main tourism supporter, Pagcor oversees development of the estimated $15-billion project.

The Bagong Nayong Pilipino sits on at least 90 hectares of prime reclaimed land facing Manila Bay.

When completed, it is expected to boost tourist arrivals in the country to over three million annually, generate over 250,000 new jobs and dramatically increase government earnings.

All concepts for the project underscore the Philippines as a major tourist destination and an ideal site for “integrated resort” developments — that is, an entertainment and leisure complex that features a complete range of world-class amenities for people of all ages –such as the Pagcor-supervised venture.

The proponents see the Bagong Nayong Pilipino having six-star hotels, gaming facilities, malls, museums, cultural centers, sports arenas, residential villages and theme parks, with variations in each of the proposals.

ARUZE Corporation of Japan, represented in the investors’ congress by its chairman Kazuo Okada, is a leading gaming machine maker and known for its ties with the famed Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas and Macau.

Its concept, the Okada Resort Manila Bay, is designed as an integrated resort featuring a hotel with 2,000 standard rooms and 300 VIP suites; a major oceanarium targeted to be the world’s largest; theaters, a sports arena and a special museum; and a giant ferris wheel similar to the London Eye to be known as the Manila Eye.

The Genting Berhad Group owns the Genting Highlands Resort in Malaysia and holds the exclusive development rights of film giant Universal Studios in Asia. It has partnered with its subsidiary Star Cruises and local property giant Alliance Global for its project concept.

Genting’s chairman, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, was also present at the congress along with Alliance Global chief Andrew Tan. Their conglomerate plans to build several hotels with a minimum room capacity of 2,000 rooms, a world-class theme park and a museum, plus a tower that will be the tallest in the world.