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COTAI, MACAO-Las Vegas Sand Inc., the owner and operator of The Venetian Casino Resort in Las Vegas, is planning to spend up to $10-billion to recreate “The Strip” in Cotai, Macao, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Located between the islands of Coloane and Taipa, Macao consists of a peninsula connected to Mainland China and two islands, all interconnected with bridges and avenues. The design for the project was developed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, who envision the area as the largest destination resort in the Asia Pacific region. Jones Lang LaSalle says it is acting as the project’s exclusive advisor.

As planned, the development includes 20 mega resorts and 60,000 hotel rooms, exhibition and conference facilities, theaters, showrooms, shopping malls, spas, dozens of restaurants and entertainment facilities, including, of course, casinos. Las Vegas Sands Inc. Chairman/CEO Sheldon Adelson says the plan is to create a “Las Vegas-style strip” anchored by The Venetian Macao, which will recreate “the glamour and excitement of The Venetian Las Vegas, with the beauty of baroque Venice — the canals, gondolas, singing gondoliers and other legendary Venetian icons.”

JLL CEO Peter Barge says the first stage of development will focus on the development of eight land parcels, including the 1,500-room all-suite mega-resort The Venetian Macao. All under one roof, the hotel will include meeting and conference halls, an exhibition and convention centre, a world-class arena, casino floor, showroom, theatres, fine dining restaurants, a spa and a large shopping mall with additional dining amenities.

Las Vegas Sands Inc. President/COO William Weidner says the Cotai strip will be well positioned to accommodate the travel demand from China and the Asia Pacific region and should attract long-term stays because there’s no resort destination in China. “Last year alone, Macao entertained 11.9 million visitors, of which 4.24 million were generated from the mainland,” said Weidner. “The opportunity of the region is nothing short of fantastic; within a two hour flight of Macao, over a billion people reside. Within a five hour flight of the Macao, three fifths of the world resides.”

Also wanting to appeal to the ‘day trip’ market, the company is also developing an urban casino called The Las Vegas Sands, on Macao peninsula, separate from the future development on the Cotai strip. That casino is scheduled to open in early 2004 near the Macao ferry terminal, in the existing casino and entertainment district.

Adelson’s company will apparently have the support of the Macao Government. In what Las Vegas Sands Inc. describes as an open letter to potential investors, it quotes Macao’s director of lands public works and transport as saying the Macao government “will provide its assistance by appointing a special team of officials to assist potential investors with securing the relevant planning and other approvals to ensure a successful outcome for the potential investor in its investment of capital in the Macao S.A.R.”

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