HONG KONG - Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd and South Africa's Sun City casino king plan to build a US$1.6 billion (S$2 billion) resort on China's Hainan holiday island, joining a pack of players betting on a surge in upscale tourism in the country.
Long touted as a place where China could liberalise casino gambling, the balmy island off the country's southern coast has attracted scores of international developers in the past two years, including InterContinental, Starwood, and casino operators MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment.
The latest Hainan project, an Atlantis brand hotel in southern coastal city Sanya that Fosun will jointly develop with tycoon Sol Kerzner's company, will not include a casino, Kerzner chief executive Alan Leibman told Reuters in an interview. "We have been very successful with and without gaming within our business.
It is nothing we have anticipated in why we are building Atlantis" in Hainan, Mr Leibman explained.
The executive put the cost of the project at "about US$1.5 billion" in the interview, while Fosun and Kerzner said in a joint statement that Fosun will invest "over 10 billion yuan (S$2 billion)" in the project.
Casino gambling is illegal in China outside of the former Portuguese colony of Macau, an hour's flight from Hainan by plane.
Earlier this year, the local government shut down a casino bar that had been operating illegally in Hainan after a Reuters report drew attention to it. The bar has reopened now, according to a hotel employee.
While Chinese authorities have maintained an official ban on gambling in Sanya, tourists continue to flock to the southern island.