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The Bahamas – Baha Mar looks to China for players

By - 10 April 2014

Executives of Baha Mar, the US$3.5bn integrated destination resort project scheduled to open in December 2014, met with China’s Ambassador to The Bahamas to discuss the potential for increased tourism between The Bahamas and China, which is now ranked as the world’s biggest-spending nation on international travel.

Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tom Dunlap, Baha Mar’s President, and Robert D.L. Sands, Senior Vice President-Administration and External Affairs, met recently with His Excellency Yuan Guisen, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Along with other issues, the officials discussed the ongoing development of airlift from cities in mainland China, outreach to potential Chinese visitors, and raising awareness among travel agents and consumers of the ease of travel between the two countries.

The discussion followed the announcement in December 2013 of a Bahamian-China visa accord, which allows mutual 30-day access to Bahamian and Chinese passport holders without requiring a visa.

“Our ties with China will be key in helping to diversify The Bahamas’ global tourism base,” Mr. Izmirlian said.  “We’re grateful for the Chinese Government’s ongoing efforts to further develop relations between our countries. It’s particularly important to Baha Mar, which stands to benefit by providing a unique travel experience—an authentic Bahamian resort offering the full complement of luxury accommodations, golf, casino gaming, spa treatments and access to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.”

The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, the centerpiece of the development, will feature a Las Vegas-style experience with 100,000 square feet of casino space, 1,500 slots and 150 table games. Pending gaming regulatory changes currently under consideration by the Bahamian Parliament would allow Baha Mar to offer many cutting-edge gaming amenities, including private VIP gaming salons; internet gaming; mobile gaming; in-play sports betting; and the newest and most popular slot machines. By offering the full complement of luxury shopping, fine dining, nightlife, outdoor adventures, art and culture, Baha Mar is designed to compete with the best the world has to offer.

China’s burgeoning middle class and affluent citizens have become highly influential global travellers, buoyed by the country’s recent economic growth. In 2012, Chinese surpassed U.S. and German citizens to become the world’s top international tourism spenders, with 83 million people spending BSD$102bn on worldwide travel, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). By 2015, 100 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad, the organization reported.

Chinese travellers have helped to make Macau and Singapore the world’s fastest-growing gaming resort destinations. Macau’s gaming revenues soared to BSD$46bn in 2013, far surpassing the BSD$6.5bn generated by Las Vegas Strip resorts, according to data from government and Wall Street sources.

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