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Mice Asia Net : January 2010
10 miceAsia.net news integrated ONSLAUGHT resort According to the online free encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, the term Integrated Resort (IR) is a Singaporean euphemism for a casino-based vacation resort. It's probably fitting then that the latest IR's will be Singapore-based -- the Marina Bay Sands, opening in 2010 and Resorts World at Sentosa shortly after. What the web-based research tool doesn't allude to is how IRs tap into the meetings, incentives and exhibitions segment. Many would agree that the IR phenomenon began in Las Vegas, and that the head of the Las Vegas Sands company, Sheldon Adelson, saw the potential the MICE sector had for IRs. Indeed, it was Mr Adelson who founded the Computer Dealers Exposition (COMDEX) in the late 1970s. As the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, his net worth today is around $3.4 billion (a far cry from what it was some years earlier when he was named America's third richest man, but a fair bit nonetheless). It is he and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation that built the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, and The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Macau -- now regarded as Asia's first IR. Revenue from MICE business in Las Vegas is now higher than revenue from gaming, although the two are inextricably linked. And this is most obviously the case at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. In my past two visits to Macau (in 2008 and 2009), the importance of the convention and exhibition business was not stressed enough, and was clearly evident. On both occasions large meetings with a broad cross-section of international delegates were being held at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, utilising facilities that few venues can offer. Already some reports have revenue from gambling in Macau exceeding that of Las Vegas. If that's the case then it is likely that growth in the MICE sector in Macau (like it has in Las Vegas) will follow. With The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino up and running Las Vegas Sands Corporation has turned its attention to Singapore and the construction of Marina Bay Sands. When completed Singapore's Marina Bay waterfront will feature world-class convention and exhibition facilities, a luxury hotel, an iconic ArtScience Museum, gaming, state-of-the-art theatres, entertainment, and an unparalleled spread of shopping and dining outlets in one landmark structure. Marina Bay SandsTM is a S$5 billion, 2500-room five-star casino. It will be a serious global player in the MICE space, offering 100,000 square metres of flexible exhibition halls, meeting and banquet rooms. It will also have two 2000-seat theatres. Its design is said to represent the welcoming hand of Singapore at water level while the main hotel structure soars 50 storeys in three towers joined across the top by a one hectare rooftop "Sky Park" with sculptured gardens, restaurants, swimming pools, spa, and jogging paths with 360 degree views. Already the Marina Bay Sands development group is stressing the importance of the MICE sector, with the operators revealing a strong line-up of events for the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, part of the project, in 2010. Marina Bay Sands has secured events from industries including engineering, legal, property, consumer lifestyle, textile, life sciences, machinery, manufacturing and renewable energy, with exhibitions in these sectors bringing in between 3000 and 25,000 attendees. In May 2010, lawyers will congregate at Marina Bay Sands for an annual conference organized by the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA). With the theme of climate change, the IPBA 2010 conference counts former US Vice President and environment champion Al Gore as its keynote speaker. The conference was last held in Singapore in 1994. Other returning events include the 2010 UFI Congress which will come back to Singapore after a 15-year absence. "This speaks volumes about the ability of Marina Bay Sands to THE ADDITION OF INTEGRATED resorts in Singapore will have a lasting impact on the MICE sector globally. STORY BY BRAD FOSTER Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa.