Asia's massive resorts getting in on the (circus) act

When plans for Asia's "integrated resorts" were first unveiled they promised to bring with them all the razzle and dazzle the world had come to expect from Las Vegas - and those plans are proving true to their word.

In Asia, "integrated resort'' has become the catchphrase used for the massive developments springing up first in the Chinese city of Macau and now in Singapore. They provide luxury accommodation, all manner of entertainment options and, at their hearts, sprawling casinos which are already turning over staggering amounts in revenue.

But operators have been careful to let the world know it's not all about the casino cash - and hence they are investing massive amounts in very modern versions of the circus acts to bring people through their doors.

First there was the Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel ( http://www.venetianmacao.com), which set up a purpose-built theater for the famous Cirque du Soleil and their ZAIA show, which has been running now for three years.

More recently has followed Macau's City of Dreams complex ( http://www.cityofdreamsmacau.com), which brought impresario Franco Dragone on board, and also built him a theater for his The House of Dancing Water show, which will officially open on September 17.

And, not to be out done, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) ( http://www.rwsentosa.com) last month unveiled Voyage de la Vie - "Singapore's first theatrical rock circus spectacular."

Combined, the productions are setting the resorts back billions of dollars but the positive results are already being felt.

Singapore is enjoying record numbers of tourists - they topped one million for a month for the first time ever in July.

"The Singapore Tourism Board has been doing a good job and the whole tourism industry has been on a buoyant spin. Two-thirds of the visitors to the casino, for example, come from overseas. Many of them include Universal Studios Singapore [situated at RWS] and Voyage de la Vie in their itineraries," Tan Hee Teck, president and chief operating office of Genting Singapore, operators of Resorts World Sentosa, said in a press release.

Getting in on the act come March 2011 will be Singapore's other casino-resort complex, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) ( http://www.marinabaysands.com), which will be staging Disney's The Lion King musical.

MBS is also now putting the finishing touches to its Moshe Safdi-designed The Museum, which will boast more than 60,000 square feet (5574 square meters) of space, is expected to open in December and feature exhibitions from all over the world.

And all this is of course helping the casinos - Macau collected US$14.5 billion (11.2 billion euros) in gambling revenue in 2009, leaving Las Vegas (US$5.5 billion or 4.2 billion euros) in its wake. Singapore meanwhile is expected to collect US$3 billion (2.3 billion euros) this year - and up to US$6.5 billion (five billion euros) by 2012, according to gaming industry analysts.

The Shows
Resorts World Sentosa - Voyage de la Vie
Website: http://www.rwsentosa.com
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ob7EXq4f6o

City of Dreams - The House of Dancing Water
Website: http://www.thehouseofdancingwater.com
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0ppTqJKV6g&feature=related

Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel - ZAIA
Website: http://www.venetianmacao.com
Video: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/zaia/home.aspx

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