Orchard Road hotels and retailers say IR will bring in more business for them

Over the Lunar New Year holidays, Singapore’s first casino and Universal Studios theme park at Resorts World Sentosa garnered all the attention.

But some are wondering if the focus on roulette tables and roller coaster rides will cause the mainland’s central shopping belt along Orchard Road to lose its glitter.

Singapore’s first casino and Universal Studios theme park opened over the weekend creating a buzz, not just here, but in the region as well.

With Singaporeans and tourists expected to throng the attractions – the question is – what will happen to the country’s premier shopping belt, Orchard Road?

For one, hotels there said they are not perturbed by the competition.

Katherine Wong, GM, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, said: “It is an anticipated competition where it’s the IR or new hotels coming into the market. We monitored our occupancy very closely. It could be a friendly threat for all, but I do not see any significant ups and downs.”

Hotels said it’s unlikely Orchard Road will be overshadowed by developments in Sentosa, a point echoed by retailers.

Jimmy Fong, CEO, AFOR – EpiCentre, said: “Resorts World Sentosa will bring in more crowds because more tourists will be in Singapore. Not everyone will head to the casino, where it’s more entertainment. Our place here is more for shopping.”

And Orchard Road, after the recent revamp at its many shopping malls, is still pulling in the crowds.

In fact, 313@Somerset saw some 80,000 shoppers during the Lunar New Year holidays with retailers saying business doubled.

The mall is also linking up with Orchard Central in two to three years’ time, all part of plans to enhance the shopping experience.

While the situation for now seems okay for Orchard Road hotels and businesses, it remains to be seen how it’ll be like when the second integrated resort opens in Singapore.

Ruprecht Schmitz, general manager, Orchard Hotel Singapore, said: “If you go to the resort in Sentosa, you may not want to stay only in Sentosa and if you go to Marina Bay, may not only want to stay in Marina Bay. There are many other things to do in Singapore and you may also have clients who want to go to these resorts but don’t want to stay there.”

Orchard Hotel said the influx of tourists to Singapore as a result of the integrated resorts should boost their weekend occupancy as well.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 17 Feb 2010

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