The first fully integrated casino resort in Europe will be City of Dreams Mediterranean, and it will open in 2021. City of Dreams Mediterranean will be operated by Melco, and it will be located on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which is considered a crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia.
Cyprus is a member of EU (European Union), the country has a stable government, a growing economy and it has a robust tourist infrastructure that has international airports and cruise ports. In 2018, the tourists number was close to 4 million, 3 times more than the island’s population. As weather, Cyprus has winter temperatures are around 17C, summer being around 32C, and the average sunshine is more than 10 hours a day for six months.
The T.R.E.E Concept
Craig Ballantyne is the Property President for City of Dreams Mediterranean. Daniel Connelly believes that stating the idea of knowing casino is an understatement for Craig. Daniel met Craig in London, in order to discuss the development of City of Dreams Mediterranean, how the Cyprus government is adapting and the opportunities given in economic and tourism development.
For the beginning, City of Dreams Mediterranean is an excellent example of “green field” for Foreign Direct Investment. Starting from Phase One, this FDI from Melco will built physical infrastructure and assets. Melco is already employing local people to work on the new building. Craig introduced Daniel the idea of T.R.E.E, which is a concept of his when comes to casino resorts. T.R.E.E consists in: Tourism, Regulatory Framework, Employment and Economic Development.
Craig pictures his idea as a tree with four large branches, and each branch is Tourism, Regulatory Framework, Employment and Economic Development being the largest branch of the tree. Craig believes that an integrated casino resort can grow into a very large and very healthy tree. In order to grow, the tree needs the correct conditions, just like in nature. Like an oak tree, all integrated casino resorts starts as an acorn, a seed.
If operators are able to visualise the transformation of an acorn into a large oak tree, this shows that the casinos are able to show an intelligent thinking. Melco was able to show this intelligent thinking towards the Cypriot government. This type of casino operations will help by providing quality insights to casino operators, like Melco in this situation.
T.R.E.E Concept into City of Dreams
Craig also mentioned attending to the so called tree concept, where it requires nourishment in order to grow, and when the tree grows, so does its branches. This type of concept can be seen by looking at Las Vegas, Macau and other casinos, like Admiral Casino.
The Phase One of City of Dreams Medditerranean will starts with “The T” which is Tourism. The resort is aiming for 300.000 tourists annually. Melco has chose to add 500 rooms into the Phase One hotel. This decision will allow other Cypriotic hotels and businesses to stay on the market, which will also benefit from the making of City of Dreams Mediterranean.
Craig said that City of Dreams Mediterranean will deliver an optimal economic and societal growth for Cyprus if there is an intelligent and supportive Regulatory Framework. Cyprus has a stable government and is also a member of European Union. Melco is the only operator in Cyprus and Melco’s challenge is to achieve balance. The balance is by being regulated in a manner that it will allow growth and also ensure that operational standards are met.
Employment is a major benefit for any economy. For City of Dreams Mediterranean, Melco is already operating their temporary and satellite casinos. They already employed close to 1000 people, which are 60% to 70% locals. This is ahead of their expectations and they are pleased that they are able to focus on employing the local citizen. By this, they are able to provide quality jobs, helping, supporting and developing the local economy.
In addition, Melco will also bring high standards of hospitality training for Cyprus. This is seen as a beneficial impact on Cyprus tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries. Melco’s focus on training the local personnel will lift the expectations and experience for visitors to Cyprus. This will also improve career prospects for their staff and at the same time they will raise the bar for all the businesses in Cyprus.
The final branch of T.R.E.E is Economic Development. By employing the local citizens will add benefits to the Cypriot economy. The Phase One will start very soon and the construction itself will create economic benefits through employment. Craig mentioned that currently Melco is working to ensure the correct foundations are in place. They have finished the pillings and can focus on building the City of Dreams Mediterranean. They also need to ensure that their T.R.E.E has the correct conditions to nourish.
In recognition of how important tourism has become for Cyprus, the government created the Deputy Ministry of Tourism in January 2019. And up to 2030 the Deputy Ministry of Tourism is responsible with the National Strategy for Tourism. One important pillar of this National Strategy for Tourism is to oversee the management demand of reducing seasonal tourism.
City of Dreams Mediterranean is the perfect asset to reduce tourism seasonality. Any new integrated casino resort needs the correct support to grow and to have the correct foundation in place. The Deputy Ministry of Tourism is Mr. Perdios, and Craig commented that Mr. Perdios is an experienced businessman and professional into the field of hotels, hospitality and tourism.