The latest to throw their hat in the ring is Tokyo-based travel agency and park operator H.I.S. Co., which has set its sights on buying a deserted island to boost its appeal as a potential site for a casino resort.
Hmm. Buying an island. That’s a strategy we haven’t seen before. But H.I.S., the country’s largest listed travel agency, seems to believe that the plan has some legs to it. Chairman Hideo Sawada expressed confidence that his company can lease land to casino developers at its Dutch-themed Huis Ten Bosch amusement park in Nagasaki on the western edge of Japan’s Kyushu island.
Sawada’s plan could actually work. For one, the sheer size of Huis Ten Bosch – spread across 1.52 million sq. meters of land – is enough to accommodate a big casino developer. And that’s not even counting the uninhabited island the company plans to buy. The theme park already attracts a lot of visitors – 2.48 million tourists in 2013, 29 percent more than 2012. Huis Ten Bosch doubled its revenue to ¥5 billion last year, accounting for 38 percent of H.I.S. profit.
No specific names were divulged, but H.I.S. says it’s in discussions with a number of prospective partners to build what Sawada describes as a “Game Kingdom”. Sawada has vowed that his company will be the “fastest one to build a casino, once there is a green light.” He followed that promise with an even bolder claim: “No other Japanese city can turn a profit on casinos other than us, apart from Tokyo and Osaka.”
Not lacking in confidence, this man.