The core question around this new proposal - having seen every mayoral team and candidate lined up against Val Schier, all adamantly insisting that a theater will not draw tourists to Cairns: Why does Shangri-La management suddenly believe this is false? How do they expect such a project to benefit Shangri-La (because clearly they have no real interest in the Cairns community needs). Their proposal just doesn't make sense. Until you know the facts - there is one way to make a theater on this site work.
The Shangri-La hotel chain, based in Hong Kong, has been a stunning success in Mainland China. Their Shangri-La, Kerry, Traders, and related hotel brands are seen as the pinnacle of Chinese hotel development, and they've been planning to parlay this market position to capture the huge revenues associated with gambling. In addition to the insider reports, all the evidence about Shangri-La points to their gambling growth strategy being first implemented in Cairns.
An outside analysis of Shangri-La operations revealed the depth of Shangri-La's growth problems. The recommendations to management were that "Shangri-La needs to make some heavy investments into the hospitality sector to make a base. . " and, for growth, "their product line offerings should be expanded. .to include. .Casinos"
In order to shore up their growth and follow these recommendations, Shangri-La committed almost US$1B to the giant second-stage Sands China Macau hotel and casino project. However their agreement with Sands China management was terminated, so the company has been looking for other, less competitive markets where their Chinese hospitality synergy could be used. Likewise, Shangri-La's committment to the Echelon Place project in Las Vegas has collapsed along with the rest of this project, in this troubled gaming capital. Nevertheless, Shangri-La had been adding management ranks skilled at casino operations and then began to look at Australia, primarily Queensland.
Many in town are asking - why would Shangri-La believe they could get any money out of budget-slasher Campbell Newman? Listening to the statements to the media by local Shangri-La General Manager George Wee however, he parses his words very carefully. He's made statements like "we need to secure partnerships with the government" and "this is not a proposal just for the Shangri-La".
And shortly after the Newman-LNP election in Queensland, Shangri-La quickly closed on a hotel deal in Brisbane, which was thought to be contingent on the LNP being elected. Are there Casino plans for this hotel, a stones-throw away from the Treasury Casino, as well?
We understand that there may be no disclosure of the casino angle until the pollies have been given time to sell the "partnership" idea to the public. The residents will then be told about the casino, with the explanation "it's the only way this private/public partnership can work".
You don't see China putting casinos anywhere in the Mainland, and will likely not see that in the future, if ever. The Chinese government recognizes the scourge of gambling in their society, as does Australia. And the Mainland Chinese government refuses to have casino gaming on its home soil, despite the huge revenue stream. Despite the evidence, I guess the Queensland government can develop this new revenue source, as long as it isn't "our" Chinese.
The lack of consultation on the actual theater is only half the problem now. And yet this project is now being slammed up the arse of Cairns residents, who've had zero input into the plans, and zero input in the idea of having a second casino, packed with overseas tourists, as the home of their new "Civic Theater". Is that the kind of environment Cairns wants for our children attending or performing at the Eisteddfod, the Cairns Choral Society, the Christmas show, and the shows and concerts that visit the region?
And if we're being lined up for "gambler's junkets" from Shanghai, and the direct flights soon from Guangzhou, are they going to have the least bit of interest in the Daintree, reef trips, Green Island, or any of our iconic tourist product?