Energy and Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis on Monday promised MPs they would be amazed once the government unveils its final casino plans.
“We have set the bar very high and we seem to be getting there. I believe that you will be impressed by the plans which we will present to you at some point shortly,” he told lawmakers.
The casino licence, which Lakkotrypis said he hoped would be granted sometime in December, allows for the operation of an integrated casino resort in Cyprus for 30 years, as a monopoly for the first 15, and for a satellite casino in Nicosia – as well as three slot-machine parlours, one each in the districts of Larnaca, Paphos and Famagusta.
The only remaining bidder in the tenders process is the Melco-Hard Rock Resorts Cyprus consortium, currently engaged in final-stage negotiations with the government. The consortium plans to build the proposed casino resort in Limassol.
The entire investment is estimated at some €500 million. According to the government, the casinos will attract an additional 300,000 tourists a year.
Some 4,000 people would be employed during the construction phase, and a similar number once all the casinos are operational, Lakkotrypis said.
The satellite casino in Nicosia is estimated to be up and running by mid-2017, and a temporary casino in Limassol – until the full-blow casino resort is ready – later that year.
The planned temporary casino will likely be located at the current premises of the Monte Caputo nightspot on Amathus Avenue.
The integrated casino resort in Limassol will reportedly be built on land close to Limassol harbour and Lady’s Mile beach.
Construction on the resort – which will include a luxury hotel and theme parks – is expected to be completed by late 2019 or early 2020.
Lakkotrypis said the government has asked the consortium for additional data as it carries out its due diligence on their proposal.
“At a subsequent stage, we shall be ready to appoint the gaming authority,” the minister said.
He was speaking at the House finance committee which was reviewing his ministry’s budget for 2017.
The ministry budget has been set at €38.2 million, some €3.8 million less than allocated in 2016.
On the mooted Science and Technology Park in Pentakomo, Lakkotrypis informed MPs that no formal expressions of interest have been forthcoming from investors, so the tender validity period has been extended to mid-December. It is the third extension so far.
Lakkotrypis moreover welcomed the planned creation of an under-secretariat for tourism, which would come directly under the president.
All state-sector agencies involved with tourism, including the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, would be integrated into the new under-secretariat, he said.
The outlook for tourist arrivals in 2017 is positive, the minister said.
One concern from the UK is the relative devaluation of the sterling following the Brexit vote, as a result of which tourists from that market are spending less overall.