Packer a 'big believer' in Perth's tourism
Crown chairman James Packer has urged Australians in the east not to fear the emergence of Perth as the country's major gateway for millions of Asian middle-class visitors.
Mr Packer wants to increase Australia's share of the wealthy Asian tourism market and the company has recently completed significant refurbishments of its casino complexes in Perth and Melbourne in a bid to drawback lost visitors to new complexes in Singapore and Macau.
Despite claiming the Sydney development was needed to attract the rising Asian middle class, speaking at Crown's annual general meeting in Perth today, Mr Packer said the WA capital was best positioned to attract the billions of tourism dollars that could flow into Australia.
"I'm a big believer in Perth. This city is in an ideal position to capture the outbound tourism from Asia," he said.
"It's closer than Sydney and Melbourne and shares a time zone with the region.
"We need to think big and we need a can-do attitude to make this happen.
"The east coast cities should not be afraid of Perth being a major gateway destination as this will benefit all of our cities and the tourism sector across the country.
"It's important to understand we're not fighting for a fixed number of international tourists; the Asian and Chinese middle class is so large and is expanding so fast that the cake is only going to get bigger, with enough pieces for all of us."
Mr Packer said Australia had the opportunity to do "much better" in attracting the Chinese outbound market, with Chinese middle class expected to reach 1.4 billion people by 2030.
Singapore almost doubled its tourism revenue in the two years since it opened new luxury casino and resort complexes, he said.
The new $568 million Crown Perth Towers, announced in August, would "transform" Perth in a similar way.
Expected to be completed in 2016, the 25-storey tower will include 500 luxury hotel rooms, premium eateries and a luxury pool and spa.
"When you combine Perth's environment and natural beauty with the vast array of attractions, here at Crown Perth we have the potential to unlock tourism not just from China but from right across Asia," Mr Packer said.
One-third of Crown's revenue is generated from international tourists and it was recently recognised in Ken Henry's report on Australia in the Asian Century.
Mr Packer also reiterated calls for more direct flights from China and a streamlining of visas for Chinese coming to Australia.