Crown executive chairman James Packer has challenged the Federal Government to increase tourism investment, saying that unless more is done Australia will struggle to attract the lucrative Asian market.
Speaking at _The West Australian _'s Leadership Matters breakfast yesterday, the billionaire businessman revealed another piece of his $750 million plan to lure Asian tourists to Perth - announcing that the Burswood Entertainment Complex will be rebranded and known as Crown Perth.
The name change is part of Mr Packer's continued investment to transform the entertainment complex into an international destination, with Perth now officially becoming the third jewel in the Crown casino family after Melbourne and Macau in China.
Mr Packer said it would allow Burswood to leverage off the Crown brand which was well-known among VIPs and high rollers in Asia.
In front of 1100 guests including WA Governor Malcolm McCusker, Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh and Murdoch University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Higgott, Mr Packer outlined the developments Burswood was undergoing in order to compete with new billion-dollar integrated resorts and casinos in Singapore and Macau.
They included two $11 million "mansion" rooms and a private gaming room called the "sky salon" with sweeping views over the Swan River.
The casino had also invested in three private planes, worth up to $60 million each, to fly high-roller clients direct to the resort.
In his speech, Mr Packer said Australia's tourism sector was facing "unprecedented challenges" and a stronger relationship between the private sector and the Federal Government was needed to encourage Asian tourists into the country.
"Our focus in tourism is in Asia and particularly China," he said. "And this market is becoming increasingly competitive as integrated resorts in Asia continue to receive support from their governments."
"I believe for Australia to increase its appeal as a destination for Chinese tourists, we must listen to the customer and accordingly increase our investment in Australia's tourism infrastructure, services and activities."
Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said it had been working co-operatively with Crown to attract visitors from China.
She labelled the company's investment in WA as "nothing short of spectacular".
"Whilst many of WA's extraordinary destinations and attractions revolve around the State's immense natural beauty, it is certainly a complementary asset to also have a sophisticated, world-class complex such as Crown Perth to attract visitors," she said.
Mr Packer did not reveal any new developments for Crown Perth at the breakfast, saying he was under strict instructions not to.
But he hinted that a new Crown-backed golf course could be built in Perth because of the impending stadium development on the current Burswood Golf Course site.