CASINO PLANS A STEP CLOSER
A DELEGATION from the China Australia Entrepreneurs Association Incorporated (CAEAI) was in the Whitsundays last Thursday to announce the lodgement of a $5billion bid for one of the two regional casino licenses currently up for grabs.
CAEAI president Raymond Wang confirmed the registry of interest was lodged with the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning last Tuesday.
Mr Wang said, in partnership with Esteem Capital and the Zelong Group, who hold six casino licenses in Macau, the CAEAI was proposing to build a Chinatown-style retail and commercial precinct and an international standard gaming hotel in Airlie Beach.
The CAEAI are also proposing to build a Mt Putuo Buddhist temple in Shute Harbour and upgrade the Whitsunday Coast Airport for international flights.
The city of Xiamen, between Hong Kong and Shanghai, was mentioned as a possible first link in the adoption of China to Whitsunday flights.
If the CAEAI is successful in its bid, the next stage will be to complete an expression of interest (EOI) including full due diligence, by March 31.
Whitsundays Marketing and Development Ltd (WMDL) chairman Jim Elder, who has been working with the CAEAI, said the organisation was already well on its way to having all the relevant documentation prepared.
The registry of interest closed on Friday, February 28 and Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney confirmed 19 registrations of interest were received.
Mr Seeney said 12 of these were looking at Brisbane, with seven expressing interest in developing an integrated resort in regional Queensland.
“The government has always said that this would be an intensly competitive process and that the Integrated Resort Developments must deliver economic and community benefits,” he said.
“These resorts will not be stand-alone casinos like what has been built in the past in Queensland.
“They will be a new generation tourism product that will feature six-star hotels, retail, restaurant and entertainment zones and open space precincts of the calibre to attract tourists to Queensland for generations to come.”
Proponents that submit a successful EOI will have until late 2014 to submit a detailed proposal outlining their integrated resort visions.
A Probity Code of Practice has been established to oversee the process and former Queensland Auditor General Len Scanlan has been appointed probity adviser. Probity and commercial in confidence requirements prohibit the government from releasing the names of proponents who have registered an interest.
Meanwhile, Mr Wang described himself as “quite relaxed”.
“I am very confident we will work very well with the local community and governments here,” he said, via an interpreter last week.
Mr Elder said if the CAEAI was successful, “from the date they get all their approvals in place, he’ll start to build inside of about three months”.
A delegation of about 20 Chinese business people are expected to be back in the region in the next three weeks to look at opportunities from tourism to agriculture and beyond.
ALL SYSTEMS GO: Chinese interpreter David Ni with WMDL chairman Jim Elder and CAEAI president Raymond Wang and association member Simon Phang, with artists’ impressions of a proposed Buddhist temple and Chinatown retail complex for the Whitsundays.