Tiger Palace makes debut as tourism recovers

 Nepal is slated to get its first integrated resort with the opening of Silver Heritage’s Tiger Palace Bhairahawa scheduled for the end of November.

The hotel held a soft opening in September and the remaining preparations are being carried out for the debut of the casino on Nov. 30th.

It’s been a long haul for the project, which has faced delays and cost overruns, in part due to the massive earthquake that devastated vast swathes of the country in 2015.

In February, the Australia-listed group warned the project was delayed and over budget and said it would now cost AS$18 million ($13.8 million) more than planned at $70.3 million. It said the extra money was needed due to variations from the original plan for the casino and public areas, as well as land improvements. It also faced issues with costs arising from local contractors and delays in gaining approval from the Nepal Central Bank to raise the equity ceiling for the local operating unit. This affected the company’s ability to remit money into the country.

The company has since appointed a new team of experienced Asia executives, led by Adam Titus, who most recently worked with MGM Resorts in Macau and Okada Manila.

Delta to run Marriott Kathmandu casino

India’s Delta Corp has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Everest Hospitality and Hotel Pvt Ltd to operate a casino at the Marriott hotel in Naxal, Kathmandu. The Marriott Kathmandu is scheduled to open from June next year. “Implementing the Marriott brand standards, designed by renowned architects and utilizing the best construction companies, the hotel consists of state of the art services including spa, casino, and variety of restaurants, swimming pool, gym, exclusive suites and lounges,” a statement from Everest said.

China arrivals surge in H1

A total of 1.87 million passengers passed through the Tribhuvan International Airport in the first half of this year, up almost 13 percent from last year, the Kathmandu Times reports. Much of the increase came from a 169 percent increase in passengers carried from China, thanks to Beijing’s decision to announce 2017 would be Nepal Tourism Promotion Year. Chinese carriers--Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Air-- flew 152,829 travelers, up 169.18 percent. 

Silver Heritage is counting on vast untapped demand from India to drive revenue, being located next door to Uttar Pradesh province, with 215 million people. India is expected to have the world’s largest middle-class consumption on an annual basis by 2030 at about $12.8 trillion compared with $10 trillion for China.

The resort has 100  5 star rooms and two villas in the first phase, with plans ultimately for 400. The company is already running The Millionaire’s Club and Casino out of the five-star Shangri-la Hotel in the capital Kathmandu. For the first half of the year, it reported a win per day of $789 for table games and $41 for electronic gaming machines.

Nepal’s casino sector is gradually getting back on its feet after the earthquake and a government shutdown of the properties due to the failure to meet requirements set out in legislation designed to bring the industry more in line with international standards.

Aside from the Millionaire’s Club, Casino Mahjong at the five-star Hotel Soaltee; Casino Royale; Casino Pride and Casino Rad have reopened their doors. That’s down from 10 before the government clampdown, although more are scheduled to open.

Coming off an earthquake-hit base, Nepal recorded a 31 percent gain in tourist arrivals for 2016 to 729,550, although these numbers don’t include those crossing by land from India. Of the air arrivals, 16.2 percent were from India and 11 percent from China, with the U.S. rounding out third place with 7.3 percent of the total. Nepal’s economy has also rebounded, recording growth of 7.2 percent in the fiscal year ending mid-July, its highest rate in more than 20 years. It is expected to slow this year due to flood damage to crops, but it still expected to hit growth of about 4.7 percent.