Echo Unveils Proposal for World's First Connected, Integrated Resort at The Star

 Echo Unveils Proposal for World's First Connected, Integrated Resort at The
                                     Star

PR Newswire

SYDNEY, June 22, 2013

SYDNEY, June 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Highlights:

  oTwo new international hotels with more than 500 new rooms:

       oA six star luxury hotel
       oA five star premium hotel with prestige global operator
       oThis brings to 1,150 the total number of rooms at The Star

  oMore than 50 world-class restaurants and bars, including over 20 brand new
    experiences;
  oA contribution of $130 million to community infrastructure including the
    "City Link" pedestrian/cycle bridge and an upgraded light rail station to
    transform transport options for 10 million Sydneysider trips a year;
  oAn increase of 330,000 international and interstate visitors per year, or
    a 1.2 per cent increase to current overall NSW international and
    interstate visitor arrivals, increasing the total number of estimated
    annual  visits to The Star by international and interstate guests to over
    2,000,000 by 2025;
  oAn estimated incremental tax contribution of around $1 billion to the
    Government across the proposed extended exclusivity period;
  oEmployment of over 5,750 Sydneysiders – including more than 1,460 new
    permanent jobs for Sydney;
  oForecast incremental contribution to the NSW Gross State Product of $350
    million per annum;
  oPayments for extended licence exclusivity totalling $250 million to the
    NSW Government (which could give the NSW Government the option of
    underwriting a six star hotel at Barangaroo with these funds); and,
  oA total investment spend of more than $1.1 billion, 93% in non-gaming,
    tourism related infrastructure.

Echo Entertainment Group Chairman John O'Neill and CEO John Redmond said today
that Echo's expansion plans for The Star would see the world's first
"Connected Integrated Resort" built in Sydney.

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Mr O'Neill and Mr Redmond today unveiled details of Echo's Detailed Proposal
which was formally submitted to the NSW Government through its unsolicited
proposal process on Friday afternoon.

"The proposal we are unveiling today is visionary, transformational and we
believe would create the world's best Integrated Resort right here in downtown
Sydney," Mr O'Neill said.

"This is a pivotal moment. What we are proposing is a real game-changer for
the city and the State that will help deliver the Premier's ambition to make
NSW number 1 again.

"If approved, our plans will complete Sydney's new feature precinct,
integrating Barangaroo, Darling Harbour and Pyrmont and contribute greatly
towards the ambitious goals set by the NSW Government which aim to double
overnight visitor expenditure to NSW by 2020.

"Our proposal complements the NSW Government's vision for a revitalised
Pyrmont and Darling Harbour precinct and will simplify transport options for
millions of Sydneysider trips each year.

"Importantly, the people of Sydney and NSW will also benefit if our proposal
is approved," Mr O'Neill said.

Mr Redmond said that Echo's plans would further improve upon the benefits The
Star already provides to NSW.

"Since 1995, The Star is estimated to have already contributed around $4
billion in taxes, licence fees and other charges to the NSW Government, and
GST to the Commonwealth Government," Mr Redmond said.

"As part of our plans today, we are giving the NSW Government the option of
exclusivity payments totalling $250 million and a further tax contribution of
$1 billion for the duration of the extended exclusivity.

"We are already one of the largest single site employers in Sydney and once
our expansion plans are completed, The Star will be providing jobs for more
than 5,750 people.

"We are home to The Darling, which is the only new five star hotel built in
Sydney since the 2000 Olympics. We will further add to this by building two
brand new hotels which will mean The Star will be home to a total of 1,150
hotel rooms for tourists.

"The Star is already one of the leading tourist destinations in Sydney and NSW
but our plans are expected to attract an additional 330,000 international and
interstate visitors per year.

"I have been in this business all my life and there is not an Integrated
Resort anywhere in the world with a better location than The Star, and the
opportunity to build a complex of this scale and on such a site should be a
huge magnet to overseas visitors wanting to visit Sydney.

"This project will make The Star a $3 billion 'downtown' resort – in the heart
of Australia's global city - on the shores of the world's greatest harbour.

"We are unashamedly about Sydney. We are aiming higher for Sydney while our
rival has to have a bet each way. We believe our plans will be compelling for
both the NSW Government and the residents of Sydney," Mr Redmond said.

Strategic Benefits of Proposal

Tourism

Under Echo's proposal, The Star will feature every element of a world class
Integrated Resort and once completed it is expected to deliver an additional
330,000 international and interstate visitors per year. Key attractions will
include:

  oA total of 1,150 hotel rooms – including over 500 new 5- and 6- star rooms
    spread over two hotels;
  oMore than 50 world class restaurants and bars – including over 20 brand
    new experiences; and,
  oExtensive convention and meeting spaces and a full range of resort
    facilities.

Sydneysiders
Echo has also committed to building the "City Link" Bridge, a new pedestrian
and cycle bridge designed to relieve transport pressure for people travelling
from Pyrmont to Barangaroo or further into the CBD. It will provide a missing
transport connection and an enhancement to the walk-ability of the city. As
part of developing the plans Echo will undertake an international
architectural design contest.

Echo will also invest in an upgrade of the light rail station to better
integrate into The Star to elevate its use as a connection to the precinct.

Three public parklands in the precinct will be enhanced improving the
connectivity along the waterfront. The design of the parks will also be
subject to a design competition. Central to the connectivity of the parks will
be a new sculpture walk and a combination of permanent and temporary
interactive art installations. These features will be developed in
partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

NSW Government

Echo's proposal has significant benefits for the Government and state of NSW
including;

  oSubstantial investment in tourism infrastructure - $1.1 billion;
  oFurther payments for licence exclusivity – $250 million;
  oIncreased gaming and payroll tax – more than $63 million per annum by
    2025;
  oNew jobs – a total of 2,000 during construction, and then 1,460 per annum
    new full time positions;
  oPositive impetus for NSW – $350 million increase in Gross State Product;
  oStrong tourism growth – 330,000 additional tourists each year to Sydney;
  oSydney for major events – 40% growth in international event delegates;
  oPositive implications for gaming – only one, well regulated destination
    gambling venue in Sydney; and,
  oImproved transport infrastructure - integrate Pyrmont/Darling Harbour and
    ICC Sydney Barangaroo, linking the combined precinct with the CBD.

Alternative Option
Echo considers the optimal outcome for Sydney is the continued existing
industry structure in NSW (and across all Australian capitals) of full
exclusivity, allowing for one licensed casino operator. However Echo also
shares the NSW Government's enthusiasm for the development of Barangaroo, and
supports the inclusion of a six star hotel as a feature to help underpin the
success of such an important state project.

Echo has provided an alternative option within its proposal to the NSW
Government that does allow for earlier certainty of such a development at
Barangaroo, through Crown Limited's proposed six-star hotel. This
accommodation would be on the proviso that the gaming facilities proposed as
part of the current Crown plan are strictly table games, VIP-only, as Crown
originally proposed and in line with the globally accepted meaning and current
regulatory framework applying to Echo around VIP (that is international and
interstate "rebate") gaming.

With some fragmentation of the gaming market under this scenario, Echo would
not make a cash payment for extending exclusivity arrangements, but would
remain committed to its proposed development investment.

John O'Neill said: "Echo is still able to commit to such an investment because
the primary focus is enhancing Sydney as a destination for a greater numbers
of Asian tourists, and that tourist market is forecast to grow rapidly.

"While Echo is confident that our proposed development plus licence
exclusivity payment provides the most impactful solution, this alternative may
be seen as a potential win-win scenario for the people of Sydney, with a
combined infrastructure and tourism spend potentially in excess of $2
billion."

SOURCE Echo Entertainment Group

Contact: Camille Bentley, 0488 353 718 or Rod Bruce, 0409 637 264, Echo
Entertainment Group; Peter Brookes, 0407 911 389, Citadel Communications