Analysts question need for more MICE space in S’pore

It could be a while before Marina Bay Sands is able to double its meetings, incentives, exhibitions and conventions (MICE) space.

Analysts said land sites near the resort are not due for tender anytime soon. And some market watchers are questioning the need for more MICE space in Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands’ management said they will bid for the land sites once they are up for sale.

With more MICE events coming to the resort, Marina Bay Sands intends to double its exhibition space going forward, from the current 120,000 square metres.

Marina Bay Sands said it needs more land to accommodate its MICE business.

Some possible sites Marina Bay Sands is eyeing include a plot north of the resort, and a site in the upcoming Gardens by the Bay.

But land within the Marina Bay area will only be ready for tender from 2013 ,according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

There are 11 plots in the Marina Bay Financial Centre and Asia Square area, which are still undergoing infrastructure works, that URA intends to launch through the Government Land Sales Programme.

And if Marina Bay Sands decides to buy more land, analysts said the site should complement the area’s work-play-live concept.

Analysts said the land near Marina Bay Sands is worth up to S$1,400 per square foot, based on past transactions in the area.

They said that with another large MICE venue, there may be an oversupply of convention space in the city centre.

Marina Bay Sands and Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre make up about 220,000 square metres of convention space in the city region.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, Head of Research (Southeast Asia) at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “The key question is how much more MICE activity do we want as a key driver of the economy.”

And it is not just land that Marina Bay Sands is looking for.

Marina Bay Sands is also on the hunt for a new CEO since the shock departure of former CEO Tom Arasi last month.

Las Vegas Sands’ chief operating officer Michael Leven said a report on the potential candidates for Marina Bay Sands’ new CEO will be issued on Friday from the firm’s US office.

He added that Marina Bay Sands’ interim CEO George Tanasijevich is also being considered as Mr Arasi’s replacement.

Mr Leven said: “It is going on according to plan. At the present time, George Tanasijevich, our interim CEO, is doing a fine job…so we won’t rush the process, but we will be able to make a decision in due course.”

Marina Bay Sands has received 11 million visitors since opening its doors in April last year.

It raked in more than US$1 billion or S$1.3 billion in casino revenue in 2010.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 17 Feb 2011

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