SJM Holdings Chair and Executive Director Daisy Ho gave the opening address at the G2E Asia gaming show on Tuesday, predicting a bright future for Macau as an integral part of China’s Greater Bay Area plan.
Ho, the daughter of Macau casino king Stanley Ho, also stressed her father’s legacy with a pointed reminder to a key rival that while Sands China may have built the Cotai Strip, it was Ho who built many elements of Macau’s infrastructure over the company’s 40-year monopoly on gaming, including the airport, the bridge, the ferry terminal, the Macau Tower and other developments.
“As one of our competitors famously pointed out, we built a strip, but Dr Ho built a city,” she said, referring to comments by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. “With the promulgation of the Greater Bay Area initiative, Macau is starting on a new historical phase and as this process unfolds Macau will become more integrated with the surrounding economy and more diversified.”
The Greater Bay Area initiative was launched in February with a view to creating an economic cluster incorporating incorporating 11 Chinese cities, including Hong Kong and Macau. Beijing sees the 56,000 square kilometre area as playing a significant strategic role in the country’s development and has been keen to foster positive media coverage of the development plan.
The area has a population of 70 million people, more than the U.K. and gross domestic product of some $1.6 trillion, or 12 percent of the total Chinese economy.
“This document puts Macau into the limelight as one of the bay area’s core cities,” she said, adding the plan is a “tremendous economic opportunity for Macau.”
Ho stressed Macau needs to build on its education institutions with a view to becoming a center of excellence for training in the hospitality industry. It also needs to focus on its brand as a point where east meets west.
Ho took the opportunity to showcase SJM’s new Cotai resort, the Lisboa Palace. The IR is scheduled to open towards the end of the year, though analysts at Bernstein suggest it is likely to be delayed until early 2020.
The $4 billion project features a hotel designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld and another by the house of Versace.