Genting Singapore—controlled by Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay—is investing S$400 million ($298 million) this year to revamp its casino resort and theme park in the lion city, preparing the property for a post-pandemic tourism recovery.
“The current lull period from the pandemic presents us a window of opportunity to renovate and refresh our hotel offerings,” Genting said as part of its results announcement on Thursday. The company said its three hotels, with over 1,200 rooms at Resorts World Sentosa will undertake progressive renovation works from the second quarter onwards through 2023.
While the company said full-year 2021 net profit doubled to S$183 million compared to the previous year, earnings were weaker in the second half due to a renewed spike in Covid-19 infections. Genting’s rival Marina Bay Sands, which recently reported improved earnings at its Singapore casino, is also upgrading the iconic property in the central business district with a $1 billion makeover.
Apart from the hotel revamp, Genting said it is also expanding its Universal Studios Singapore theme park, with the construction of new attractions such as Minion Land and Singapore Oceanarium, which will be three times bigger than the current Southeast Asia Aquarium. The company had last year bought additional plots of leasehold land from the Singapore government to facilitate the project.
“As we anticipate a gradual return of visitors from our traditional markets over the next two years, we remain resilient and continue to harness opportunities to refresh and build new visitor offerings to emerge stronger from the pandemic,” Genting said.
Across the causeway, Genting Malaysia had earlier this month reopened its upgraded theme park on Genting Highlands, about an hour’s drive north of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Built on a site of over 100,000 square meters atop a mountain that’s more than 1,800 meters above sea level, Genting Skyworlds, which was redeveloped at a cost of $800 million, offers tourists 26 adventure and movie-inspired rides and attractions.
The revamp of Genting Highlands and Resorts World Sentosa is among the bright spots for Genting Singapore chairman Lim, who stepped down last month as chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong after the cash-strapped cruise ship operator filed to wind up the company. The resignation came just two weeks after Genting Hong Kong’s German shipyard unit MV Werften went into insolvency.
The pandemic has upended the tourism industry as governments around the world implemented lockdowns and restricted travel to contain the spread of the virus. While there are early signs of a recovery and pent-up demand in the leisure travel market, uncertainties prevail as governments around the world reimpose Covid-19 curbs amid a renewed spike in infections caused by the Omicron variant.
“We are confident that Resorts World Sentosa will be well positioned to lead the recovery of Singapore’s tourism as borders gradually reopen,” Resorts World Sentosa CEO Tan Hee Teck said in a separate statement. “We are excited to welcome the return of more international travelers with an even more vibrant Resorts World Sentosa in the near future.”
Besides the cruise business and properties in Singapore and Malaysia, Lim owns stakes in casino resorts in the Philippines and the U.S. The Genting Group also owns palm oil plantations in Malaysia. His real-time net worth has fallen to about $2 billion from $2.7 billion in April 2021 when Forbes last published the World Billionaires List.