LIMASSOL, Cyprus July 11 (Reuters) – Asian casino operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment has launched an entertainment and gaming complex in Cyprus, marking its first foray into Europe as it seeks to tap new markets.
The “City of Dreams Mediterranean” had total investment of more than 600 million euros ($659.46 million) making it one of the largest development projects of its kind undertaken in Cyprus.
The operator said it hoped to attract an additional 300,000 visitors to Cyprus annually.
Macau-based Melco has been seeking to diversify geographically. Aside from its Macau properties, it also has a so-called integrated resort in Manila, in the Philippines.
“City of Dreams Mediterranean ..allows Cyprus to unlock new markets in the region and beyond,” said Lawrence Ho, chairman and CEO of Melco.
Cyprus’s geographical location, at the crossroads of three continents with its proximity to Israel, North Africa and the rest of Europe was a bonus, as was its “climate and lovely beaches,” Ho told Reuters.
The resort, on the outskirts of the southern city of Limassol, is a sprawling complex comprising of a luxury hotel, venue space, eight restaurants, a massive pool complex, spas and retail outlets.
Centre stage is its gaming area, which operators say is the largest casino in Europe at just over the size of a FIFA World Cup soccer pitch.
Ho said Melco was now focused on fully developing the Cyprus project before considering whether to fan out to the rest of Europe.
Ho said the impact of the COVID pandemic had been tough, but the sector was bouncing back.
“We have seen a return of tourists into Macau. Our venture in Manila has recovered very nicely.. but even in Macau things are returning, I think to about 90% of pre-COVID levels,” he said.
($1 = 0.9098 euros) (Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Sharon Singleton)