Crown chairman has high hopes for Perth as a gambling destination, stresses need to attract middle-class Chinese tourists

James Packer

James PackerWith the success Singapore has had as a gambling hotspot, Crown chairman James Packer is convinced that Perth could become one of the next major gateways for mass-market Chinese gamblers. During the company’s annual general meeting in Perth earlier this week, Packer made it clear of Perth’s enormous potential as a premier gambling destination, particularly for the enormous Asian market that has become of the most sought after casino regions in the world.

“While Sydney has always been Australia’s gateway for international tourists, Crown’s investment in Perth provides us with an opportunity to make Perth an equally important gateway into Australia,” Packer said during the meeting.

Packer attributes a variety of factors that are advantageous to Perth that no other casino city in Australia has, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. The proximity to Asia is a big plus, according to Packer as Perth’s location on the northern part of Australia makes for faster and easier travel to and from Asian cities. In addition to that, the shared time zone allows gamblers to not get caught up in time switches, making it less of a hassle for them to get adjusted to their new surroundings.

To his credit, Packer isn’t just trying to blow smoke up people’s ass; he’s actually backing it up after having just finished making significant improvements on Perth Crown to go with a planned 500-room luxury six-star resort hotel called the Crown Perth Towers, that’s expected to rise in 2016.

“I’m a big believer in Perth,” Packer said, as quoted by The Age. “This city is in an ideal position to capture the outbound tourism from Asia. It’s closer than Sydney and Melbourne and shares a time zone with the region.”

Packer’s vote of confidence on Perth as a premier tourist destination for gamblers and non-gamblers alike came around the same time that he told a tourism summit in Canberra about growing concerns that Australia is losing a share of the fast-growing Chinese tourist market due to increased competition in the region, pointing to recent numbers that indicated Australia’s share of China’s outbound travel market falling from 1.3% in 2001 to 0.8% last year. Packer stressed the importance of this burgeoning market and suggested that Australia needed to do more to cater to Chinese tourists.

“The rise of Chinese middle class will change the world,” he said.

While the move to attract more of the middle-class Chinese attract is a problem that’s easier said than done given the aforementioned competition in the region, the Crown chairman is confident that Perth can have a major factor in tilting the percentages in Australia’s favor. He’s certainly made no bones about how he feels about luring in mass-market Chinese gamblers to the city.  And if people heed his call, Packer is confident that there’s a piece for Perth in that cake, and Australia in general, that’s just waiting to be sliced of.

“The cake is only going to get bigger, with enough pieces for all of us.”