A Destination for all seasons
Grant Johnson, Property General Manager of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos reveals how the international gaming and entertainment industry is bouncing back after the pandemic and explains why Limassol is the ideal choice for the island’s first integrated resort (IR).
What are, in your opinion, some of the reasons why Limassol is considered to be the ideal location for the integrated resort?
Limassol offers an attractive set of benefits to investors alongside great quality of life, an array of supportive services and access to the EU market. Combined with strategic advantages such as its advanced infrastructure and educated and skilled workforce, Limassol has emerged as a regional business centre. It is also a highly developed, cosmopolitan city and is home to the island’s main port as a hub of cruise tourism. Cyprus enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine per year and Limassol is conveniently located – being just around an hour’s drive from both airports in Paphos and Larnaca.
Earlier this year, a Career Day was held showcasing upcoming available positions at City of Dreams Mediterranean. As well as providing employment opportunities, how else is the integrated resort anticipated to contribute to the economies of both Limassol and Cyprus?
Having established its position as an employer of choice that offers colleagues competitive remuneration, benefits packages and world-class training opportunities, Melco Cyprus’ goal is to become the largest and preferred employer on the island. Being one of the largest development projects ever in Cyprus, City of Dreams Mediterranean will recruit approximately 1,700 new colleagues, creating valuable job opportunities for the local population. Our vision for this this project is to create an integrated resort that will become a point of reference in the region. Being developed with Melco’s know-how as a global industry leader, City of Dreams Mediterranean will transform the country’s tourism sector, creating a chain of value in the country’s economy.
Have the current situation in Ukraine and resulting supply chain delays impacted the anticipated opening of the integrated resort?
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business activity substantially, especially in 2020, with the travel and tourism industry being among the hardest-hit sectors. The pandemic impacted the construction progress of the IR, which has also been affected by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine that has exacerbated supply chain delays. Melco Cyprus continues to carefully monitor global developments so that we can anticipate, mitigate and resolve risks rapidly and efficiently. Having overcome the challenges of the past couple of years, we remain committed to delivering a landmark project which will establish Cyprus as a global destination for hospitality, entertainment and conference tourism.
How will the integrated resort contribute to Cyprus’ tourism industry?
Being Cyprus’ first integrated resort and the largest in Europe, City of Dreams Mediterranean will stand out for its variety. Specifically, it will include a unique combination of luxury hotel, premium entertainment and sporting facilities, high-end retail stores, fine-dining restaurants and bars, a family adventure park and a 200-seat outdoor amphitheatre. Furthermore, the IR’s 10,000 square metres of MICE spaces will establish Cyprus as a key meeting point for conference tourism. The global tourism and hotel industries are seeing a trend towards high-end, all-inclusive resorts as visitors enjoy the convenience of having all facilities in one place. City of Dreams Mediterranean will fill this gap in the regional hospitality and entertainment market and tap into new consumer groups. Our goal is to create a destination for all seasons, attracting thousands of new visitors annually to Cyprus, while contributing towards the diversification of the country’s tourism product.
Melco Cyprus recently donated fire emergency response vehicles to rural communities, including those in Limassol, affected by last summer’s wildfires. How important to Melco are efforts like these to support the local community?
Melco’s fundamental philosophy on corporate social responsibility (CSR) centres around the needs of the communities and societies where we operate. We respect and are sensitive to the local ways of doing things. Collaboration and partnership with governments, local businesses, charities, educational institutes and community organisations is a core principle, and we invest in strengthening these relationships with efforts that are tailored for each of our communities. Through a proactive and innovative approach, we give back to local society, implementing a multifaceted CSR programme which is guided by our strategic pillars of Youth, Education, Environment, Women, Responsible Gaming, Whole Person Development, Culture & Heritage and Small-Medium Enterprises (SME).
How do you expect the gaming and entertainment industry to develop over the coming years, locally and globally?
The pandemic has undoubtedly affected the industry over the past two years. We are, however, optimistic that it will bounce back strongly as people have started travelling again. We expect the recovery to be gradual and the real value to be in the medium- and long-term prospects. Recent developments from locations with established entertainment industries, such as Las Vegas, show that the IR-related economy has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Specifically, reports show increases in passenger numbers and tourism and a big jump in gaming revenue, exceeding that of March 2019. According to Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, the state collected $1.1 billion in gambling revenue from casinos in April this year, a 20.5% rise on the pre-pandemic figure.