ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Singapore casino opens
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore's second casino resort and already a US$5.7 billion urban icon, opened last week, according to Asia Times.The SkyPark atop the three tapering hotel towers admitted its first guests to look down over the edge of the infinity pool 57 stories above Singapore to the Singapore Flyer wheel and beyond.
"Jaw-droppingly tremendous," one usually buttoned-down analyst exclaimed. Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, no fan of casinos or brevity, simply said, "Wow."
Last Wednesday's grand opening at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) became a made-for-TV junk sport tower climb. The event produced great panoramas of Singapore and skirted any rules around the region against casino advertising. A gala dinner for
Singapore's great and good highlighted the formal launch of this integrated resort (IR). The developer, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, invited everyone who's anyone in Singapore, Diana Ross entertained. It was an occasion for the city-state to celebrate.
"Singapore has already won," independent gaming and leisure analyst Jonathan Galaviz declared, and he'd get no argument from the hundreds attending the gala opening or from the hundreds of thousands who have visited the two IRs so far.
MBS gives Singapore a new, instantly recognizable global landmark. More practically, MBS provides Singapore with a convention center as large as any in Asia and a resident production of Broadway's The Lion King, now opening in March next year rather than this October as previously announced.
Resorts World Sentosa, Genting International's already opened US$4.7 billion integrated resort, features Asia's largest Universal Studios - Singapore's long sought world-class theme park - and will soon feature its own resident modern circus production Voyage de la Vie, plus the world's biggest aquarium.
What's a Jimmy Choo?
Both IRs are also building museums. Aside from education and culture, name-brand luxury abounds. Heard of Jimmy Choo but never seen one the company's products? At either IR, have a gander at shoes and bags from S$238 (US$169) up, way up. Choose star chefs from classic French to Austral-Japan fusion to good old American steak, and Chinese, if you please, from several regions.
It's all aimed at bringing in overseas tourists, families and leisure crowds to Resorts World Sentosa and business travelers to MBS, with hopes of raising Singapore's visitor count from below 10 million in dismal 2009 to 17 million by 2015. When fully completed, the IRs will directly employ about 20,000, and create countless further business opportunities.
Booming tourist numbers have provided the scoreboard to keep track of Singapore's IR win. Visitors are up 30 percent for May to a record 946,000 arrivals (not counting land arrivals across the causeway from Malaysia) according to figures released on Monday, the sixth consecutive all-time arrivals record for a month.
This framework has proven to be a "effective deterrent" in the trafficking of persons to Singapore and this is borne out by the extremely low number of substantiated cases.
The report said that some foreign embassies here told the US reporting team that they had identified 105 female sex trafficking victims.
However, Singapore says that the police received only three reports of alleged trafficking from foreign embassies during the period under review.
Singapore added that it has a very strict immigration regime and its tough enforcement actions and security checks detect and deter the movement of illegal immigrants in and out of Singapore.
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