Galaxy Entertainment Group, which is hoping to expand into Japan and the Philippines, may have to reconsider its plans for an IR on the island of Boracay after the government again insisted no casinos will be allowed.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told delegates at a conference in Manila that no new or existing casinos would be allowed to operate once the island reopens to tourism on October 26. It was shut down to allow an environmental cleanup in April this year.
Puyat said the announcement is in line with the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte that Boracay should be casino free.
“He has even instructed the Department of Tourism to close down the existing casinos in the island. So there will be no casinos at all in Boracay,” Puyat said.
Galaxy Entertainment Group and a local partner, Leisure & Resorts World Corporation, had planned a US$500 million family and eco-friendly IR on Boracay, to open by 2021.
As recently as last week, officials were still expressing confidence they would be able to overcome the opposition.
At press conference in Hong Kong to present 2018Q2 results, Vice Chairman Francis Lui Yiu Tung said the group backs the president on environmental issues and hopes a solution can be found.
“I hope that we would be able to work with our local partners to explain to the Philippine authorities that their vision is the same as ours,” the executive stated. “Boracay is unique. To find another beautiful island with an international airport, close to China and Macau; there aren’t any, so I still prefer Boracay,” said Mr Lui. (AGB)