Marina Bay Sands marks official opening as Singapore cashing in on tourism

After almost 12 months spent slowly revealing its attractions, Singapore's US$5.7 billion (4.2 billion euros) Marina Bay Sands marked its official completion Thursday - and celebrated the impact it claims it has already made on tourism in the city.

While the ribbon was cut on the resort's ArtScience Museum - the final piece in the puzzle that includes a casino, restaurants helmed by some of the world's most famous chefs, and a SkyPark that includes a stunning infinity pool some 57 floors high above Singapore - those gathered talked up the revenue being generated here already.

Sheldon G Adelson, CEO of resort developers Las Vegas Sands Corp, said it was "mission accomplished" and pointed to the record number of tourists that had come to Singapore in the past 12 months.

The Singapore Tourism Board says 11.6 million tourists visited town in 2010, breaking the record of 10.3 million set in 2007. And - along with Resorts World Sentosa ( http://www.rwsentosa.com), Singapore's other casino which also opened its doors last year - the Lion City now generated an estimated US$2.8 billion (two billion euro) from its gaming operations last year.

The city is now the second largest gaming market in Asia - behind the Chinese city of Macau - and accounting firm Price Waterhouse recently estimated Singapore would top US$8 billion (six billion euros) by 2014. In comparison Las Vegas - traditionally the world's number one gaming market until Macau and its annual US$23.4 billion (17.4 billion euros) came on the scene - is expected to turn over US$10.5 billion (7.8 billion euros) this year.

"Our casino accounts for only less than two percent of our operations so it is a very small part," said Adelson. "Obviously we have so much more to offer."

Part of that is what will, from March 10, become a nightly light and music show - Wonder Full - beamed up from Marina Bay, a waterside area fringing Singapore's financial district which in recent years has undergone a stunning redevelopment.

Along with Marina Bay Sands, and the boutique Fullerton Bay Hotel ( http://www.fullertonbayhotel.com), the Singaporean government is in the process of developing huge parklands are the area, which it plans to start opening to the public later in 2011.

http://www.marinabaysands.com

For a sneak preview of Water Fall, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6ywuqGoogg

MS

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