Kyushu body sends casino ops goodwill amid pandemic

The Kyushu Governors’ Association, the body that endorsed Nagasaki prefecture as the representative of that Japanese region in its tilt at a casino resort, held an online meeting on Friday – and also took part in a “Kyushu strategy meeting” involving community interests. The latter sent a goodwill message to all casino resort operators regarding the “difficult circumstances the spread of Covid-19 has brought to the integrated resort industry and the world”.

That is according to a press release with Monday’s date, from a body called the Kyushu Regional Strategy Conference. The term integrated resort or “IR” is used in Japan to denote large-scale casino complexes with associated tourism facilities.

Separately Masahiko Kunihiro, of the Integrated Resort Promotion Division Planning Department at the Nagasaki prefectural government, told GGRAsia in response to our enquiry, that it was “not wholly correct” to suggest – as had been earlier reported – that the Kyushu authorities had issued a specific invitation to 20 operators to take part in Nagasaki’s request-for-proposal (RFP) process regarding a tilt at a casino resort

The press release from the Kyushu Regional Strategy Conference said that in addition to the goodwill message to operators, the body had outlined its three expectations from an IR: the international promotion of various attractions in Kyushu such as hot springs and cooperation with the tourism industry to promote excursions within the region; the international promotion of the “rich and high-quality” food ingredients of Kyushu; and the “proactive involvement and cooperation with regional development” and with companies that “contribute to a more vibrant Kyushu”.

In late April Nagasaki said it would launch in a “couple of months” – instead of the previously-mentioned spring time frame – its RFP, citing “present global circumstances”. That was understood to be a reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted business and business travel across the Asia-Pacific region.

Nagasaki prefecture – which has chosen Sasebo city within its boundaries as the preferred site for a local IR – attracted three potential private-sector suitors when it held an earlier request-for-concept (RFC) phase from late in 2019 to January this year.

Three companies had already publicly-confirmed their participation in Nagasaki’s RFC phase. They were: Oshidori International Holdings Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed investment holding firm; Japan’s Current Corp; and Casinos Austria International Holding GmbH.

Nagasaki would like to put such a resort on a circa 31-hectare (76.6-acre) site at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park (pictured in a file photo) in Sasebo city

In March it emerged that Nagasaki prefecture had mentioned in an updated economic impact paper, a lower figure for maximum casino resort construction investment in that location than had been mooted in December.

It gave a framework of JPY350 billion (US$3.25 billion) to JPY460 billion. In December the prefecture had mentioned capital spend in the range of JPY320 billion to JPY550 billion.

Friday’s meeting of Kyushu region governors affirmed that an IR promotion project team under the association would continue its work, which would include helping Nagasaki prefecture to develop a Kyushu-wide tourism promotion strategy using a Nagasaki IR as the gateway.

The governors’ association represents the governors of the seven prefectures on Japan’s Kyushu island – namely Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki and Kagoshima. The body also represents the governors respectively of the nearby Yamaguchi prefecture on the largest Japanese island, Honshu; and the governor of Okinawa, the largest of Japan’s most southerly islands.

Friday’s Kyushu strategy meeting consisted of those nine governors, plus the heads of major economic-interest groups in Kyushu.