Given the level of competition Singapore now faces, it is timely to expand the two integrated resorts, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said.
The competition is for tourists as well as in the Mice sector, which refers to meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions. IRs act as magnets in both these fields.
Mr Chan was briefing the media yesterday, two days after the announcement that casinos at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa would have their exclusivity period extended until the end of 2030, from 2017 earlier.
He pointed out that countries including Japan and South Korea are either planning to open an integrated resort or have done so.
He also noted the growing number of attractions in Asia as each country in the region vies for its share of the Mice market.
Mr Chan said that Singapore should not wait until its attractions are "so dated and (we) try to play catch-up".
Competition is heating up, he added, pointing out that he and representatives from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Sentosa Development Corporation had already started discussing the Republic's next move for the Mice industry the morning before the Government announced the deal with the two IRs on Wednesday.
ATTRACTING S'POREANS FOR IR JOBS
Singaporeans are quite practical, it depends on what package they are offered.
MR CHAN, on the new jobs creating more opportunities and diverse choices for Singaporeans.
STAYING AHEAD OF RIVALS
Our job is to make sure we stay one step ahead of the competition constantly, and that requires imagination.
TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING
"Our job is to make sure we stay one step ahead of the competition constantly, and that requires imagination," he said.
Expanding the two IRs was part of Singapore's economic strategy to constantly refresh job and tourism offerings here. Mr Chan said this must be done to prevent wage stagnation.
"(Otherwise) our children will be getting their grandfathers' pay because it is the same job from (a previous) generation," he said.
The resorts will pump in $9 billion to build three more hotels, two new zones in theme park Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa and a 15,000-seat indoor arena.
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 annually.
The negotiation for the new deal took about two years, Mr Chan said.
He refuted suggestions that jobs in the service industry may not be popular with locals.
Mr Chan expects the new jobs to create more opportunities and diverse choices for Singaporeans.
"Singaporeans are quite practical, it depends on what package they are offered," he noted.
The Republic is on a quest to grow tourists' value-add dollars, Mr Chan said, referring to the quality of tourism spending here.
Mr Chan gave the example of how a tourist might come to Singapore to buy a branded bag, but the margin per transaction may not be high as the bag was not made here.
He said that Singapore will be moving towards this new metric, and suggested that the Republic would want to grow value-add dollars from tourists.
The growth in the number of tourist arrivals did not keep pace with tourism receipts last year.
Total arrivals last year rose 6.2 per cent to 18.5 million, while tourism receipts climbed 1 per cent to $27.1 billion, according to STB preliminary estimates released in February.