Integrated resorts' expansion plan 2 years in the making, part of Singapore's growth strategy: Chan Chun Sing

Marina Bay Sands hopes to draw A-list artistes to its new entertainment space (left), while a new Singapore Oceanarium three times larger than the existing S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa is being planned. PHOTOS: MARINA BAY SANDS PTE LTD, RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the growing competition for tourists and the Mice industry is a reason for Singapore to stay on its toes. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Expanding the two integrated resorts is part of the Republic's economic strategy to "constantly refresh" job and tourism offerings here, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

This must be done to prevent wage stagnation, he added. Otherwise, "our children will be getting their grandfathers' pay because it is the same job from (a previous) generation".

Mr Chan's comments at a briefing on Friday (April 5) come after the Government said on Wednesday that it was extending the exclusivity period for the casinos at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to operate until the end of 2030.

The resorts will pump in $9 billion in all to expand their non-gaming offerings in exchange for the extension.

Three more hotels, two new zones in theme park Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa and a 15,000-seat indoor arena are among their expansion plans.

They will also be allowed to expand their gaming areas and add machines under the agreement.

About 5,000 jobs will be created with the expansion, and about two-thirds of the new roles, ranging from management positions to operations - will be filled by locals.

The expansion is expected to draw an additional 500,000 international visitors a year who will contribute $500 million to the country's gross domestic product.

The negotiation for the new deal took about two years, Mr Chan said.

A Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesman said that the negotiations started before the exclusivity period for the two casinos to operate here ended.

Mr Chan said that the growing competition for tourists and the Mice industry is another reason for Singapore to stay on its toes. Mice refers to meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions.

He pointed out that countries including Japan and South Korea are either planning to open an integrated resort or have already opened one.

He also noted the growing number of attractions in South-east Asia as each country clamours for "their share of the Mice market".

Singapore should not "wait (until) things are so dated and (we are) left behind... then (we are) left to play catch-up".

Competition is intense, Mr Chan said, pointing out that he and representatives from the Singapore Tourism Board and Sentosa Development Corporation have already started "discussing what is our next (move) for the Mice industry" the morning before the Government announced the deal with the two integrated resorts.

"Our job is to make sure we stay one step ahead of the competition constantly, and that requires imagination," he said.

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