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By JESSAN DOTON
There are certain challenges currently facing our tourism industry that prevents it from servicing all guests fully.
The 100 Sands Casino and Convention Centre is aimed to address some of these.
The Permanent Secretary for Tourism, Elizabeth Powell, said the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) market is a lucrative one for many tourism destinations.
She said as much as Fiji had to offer, it cannot consider itself with the capability to be able to cater for this growing segment because it does not have the facilities required.
Coupled with the lack of activities that are not to do with water and marine sports, there is a challenge in being able to accommodate the needs of new visitors from emerging markets, in particular, the growing Asian market.
Ms Powell was one of the speakers at the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress which started at the Sheraton Fiji Resort yesterday.
She said in her presentation, the casino would provide Fiji’s first ever state-of-the-art conference and convention facility which, at the minimum, have a seating capacity of 1500.
“The casino will also address room constraints with the addition of 150 hotel rooms in Phase One, and an additional 300 after Phase Two,” she said.
“It will also reduce seasonality via entertainment and MICE events which typically have longer length of stay.
“This will be a new product for the Fiji tourism experience.”
Ms Powell also said casino operators were getting a good number of leads for events to be held at the convention centre.
“Casino operators have already identified four solid lead requests for bookings for the convention facility in 2014,” she said.
With everything considered, and provided that factors remain constant, Tourism Fiji expects to reach its forecasted one million visitor arrivals by the end of 2012 rather than the initially extrapolated target of 2016.
The casino will see revenue from the following streams: five per cent Gross Gaming Revenue, a Community Fund Levy which will give back two to four per cent Net Gaming Revenue (GGR – amounts paid as or for prizes and total operating expenses) to the community, as well as $500k per annum paid to the Fijian Gaming Commission and Control Board.
Ms Powell said the casino would increase revenue and taxes, augment visitor spending and length of stay.
She also said a Fijian Gaming Commission and Control Board is being established to ensure all checks and balances were in place for the new venture.