During an impressive presentation held at the Presidential Palace in Cyprus on 9 January 2018 the finalised plans for the first Integrated Casino resort in Cyprus, and the largest in Europe, were unveiled. Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd, a Hong Kong based owner and operator of casino resort facilities in Asia, will bring its ‘City of Dreams’ brand to Cyprus, with the architectural design given a Mediterranean feel and the resort appropriately called ‘City of Dreams Mediterranean’.
Melco and local partner, The Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) Ltd won an exclusive license to operate Cyprus’s first-ever casino following an international competition run by the Government of Cyprus. The resort is expected to attract an additional 300,000 visitors a year to Cyprus, adding €700 million, or 4%, per annum to the country’s GDP , after the second year of operation.
The project which will be developed in Limassol, entails an investment of €550 million and is expected to open in 2021. It will include 136 tables,1200 gaming machines, a five star hotel with luxurious villas and 500 hotel rooms,11 restaurants and cafeterias, a wellness centre, a sports centre, an extensive pool area with river woods and surf pools, a high-end retail area and an outdoor 1,500 seats amphitheatre with extensive green areas. Also, in order to attract conference tourism, City of Dreams Mediterranean will offer 9,600-sq. metres of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition) facilities with a convention Expo centre.
City of Dreams Mediterranean-Limassol, Cyprus.Picture credit: Melco Resorts & Entertainment
One of the reasons cited by Melco for choosing Cyprus as its first country of expansion outside Asia is that it is a fast-growing market with a lot of potential. It is a member of the European Union, with a well-established rule of law, it has a good geographical position being close to the Middle East and it already attracts a large number of visitors from the UK and Russia. Good infrastructure was also cited as a reason for the choice.
Cyprus has been enjoying a comeback in the Tourism market in recent years. It had 3.7 m tourist arrivals in 2017, adding 1m visitors, a growth of 37%, over a two year period.
Significant infrastructure development is going on in the island with new hotels being constructed and existing ones being extended or renovated to accommodate the increased tourism demand. Also other major projects like Marinas are taking shape. A total of five marina projects are under various stages of development, with the Limassol one already operational since 2014, another in Ayia Napa currently under construction, the contract for one in Paralimni having just been signed and another two still under consideration. Cyprus had privatised its airports under a Build Operate Transfer tender in 2006, something that significantly assisted in infrastructure development with two new terminals being build and significant recourses devoted to attracting airlines and passengers from new and existing markets. Last year the Government also privatized Limassol Port which is expected to increasingly contribute to economic output.
Cyprus is becoming a prominent Tourist and investment destination once again , following some difficult years after the local economic crisis in 2013.To be able to attract such an investment from a company of the size of Melco for its first international expansion is an indication that trust is returning to the island nation’s economy.