The implementation of the Garden City movement after 70 years, the rapid development of tourism industry especially integrated resorts in Singapore has become one of country’s economic pillars, and visitors mainly from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and other countries and regions (Edgar and Taylor, 1996). Tourism in Singapore is a major industry and attracts millions of tourists each year. As for integrated resort (IR) in Singapore, it is a euphemism used because of opposition to casinos (Abbugao, 2010). Currently, there are two large integrated resorts built up and opened to the visitors i.e. Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands.
Resorts World Sentosa is located at the southern coast of Singapore, and its attractions include a theme park of Universal Studios, Marine Life Park and a casino. It was developed by developed by Genting Singapore since 16 April 2007 and opened to the public in early 2010 (Resorts World Sentosa, 2012). There are many attractions and facilities provided in this integrated resorts including hotels, casino, casual and fine dining, resorts world galleria luxury fashion, shows, salon & spa, maritime experiential museum and park. Similar history and development process is for Marina Bay Sands. It was developed by Las Vegas Sands since early 2006 and opened in January 2010. The integrated resort is featured with a convention-exhibition centre of 1,300,000 square foot, a hotel with 2,561 rooms, a shopping mall with 800,000 square foot, two floating crystal pavilions, two large theatres, and the largest atrium casino in the world with 1,600 slot machines and 500 tables (Marina Bay Sands, 2012).
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is the key role in the development of integrated resort of this country. What STB tries to do is to conduct a long term strategic planning to promote integrated resorts as a key driver for domestic tourism development and keep in good relationship with both private and public stakeholders. STB’s goal is to create exciting and innovative experiences for people’s visitors, in close partnership with the trade industry, thus etching forever in visitors’ minds an image of Singapore as a unique and compelling destination (STB, 2012). There are three areas of focus of STB i.e. strengthening Singapore’s position as a leading convention and exhibition city in Asia, developing Singapore as a leading Asian leisure destination, and establishing Singapore as the services centre of Asia (STB, 2012). As for IR development especially its casino business, STB supports its development from planning, design, construction and marketing. For instance, its strategic planning for Sentosa World Resort Casino is to make it a unique gaming centre for Asian tourists.
1.2 The Impacts of IR on Singapore’s Society
The development of IRs in Singapore including Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa has great impacts on the local society from many aspects, positive or negative. The majority of these impacts include Political, Economic, Social and Environmental aspects. Political impacts are how and to what degree a government intervenes in the economy in tourism industry. In Singapore, political factors include areas such as tax policy, labor law, environmental law, trade restrictions, tariffs, and political stability. Political factors may also include goods and services which the government wants to provide or are provided and those that the government does not want to be provided. As for the impact of integrated resorts, the main political impacts are the political complaints of local residents on the inflow of foreigners which results from the conflicts of business and benefits of local residents and foreigners. This is proven by the political debates held before the built up of these casinos in Singapore where a petition that attracted tens of thousands of signatures opposites the decision and the opposition said that the final decision made had overruled consensus.
Still, the major impact of the development of integrated resorts is economic impact. It is seen that tourism is a major contribution to Singapore economy. According to the lasted annual report on tourism statistics published by Singapore Tourism Board (STB, 2009), the revenue from tourism is S$ 15.2 billion. More importantly, there are other indirect revenues or GDP generated from the inflow of tourists for these integrated resorts such as the revenues of retailers in Singapore by consumption of foreigners. Also, there is an impact on employee rate with more workers hired by the opening of these two integrated resorts in 2010. In addition, transport in Singapore grows fast recent years exhaustively covers most, if not all public venues in Singapore, which increase convenience for tourists. This includes the well-known Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system (STB, 2010). Last but not least, there are more visitors for other attractions along with these two integrated resorts. Among other things, popularly promoted tourist attractions include the Merlion, the Night Zoo, Orchard Road (shopping area), Chinatown, Little India and its many eating areas (STB, 2010).
Social factors include the cultural aspects and include health consciousness, population growth rate, age distribution, career attitudes and emphasis on safety. As English is the dominant one of its four official languages, it is generally easier for tourists to understand when speaking to the local population of the country, however, with the consideration of more foreign visitors especially those from China, there are still many signs in Chinese presented in the attractions. Also, there is much criticism about the casinos in society especially its bad influence on the behaviors of Singaporeans. This is proven by the opposition of social workers in Muslim and Christian communities. They concerned the negative social impact of the casinos for worrying that these activities could increase the risk of problem gambling. Environmental impact is also a concern of the impact of these integrated resorts. Environmental factors include ecological and environmental aspects such as weather, climate, and climate change, which may especially affect industries such as tourism, farming, and insurance. Furthermore, growing awareness of the potential impacts of climate change is affecting how companies operate and the products they offer, both creating new markets and diminishing or destroying existing ones. There are many in the public worry about the impact of World Resort Sentosa for the protection of local natural environment for there are so many tourist inflows especially in the peak season which exceed the environmental capacity of the island and may threaten local environment stability. There are the impacts of the built up of these two integrated resorts that concerned most by local residents.
2.1 Reason for IR Development in Ledyard Connecticut
PESTEL is a strategic analysis tool that used to help organizations understand the external macro environment that the company face and consider (Richard, 2000). Also, I can be used to help identify the internal reason for developing integrated resort Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. As for these reasons, they are summarized in the following paragraphs.
Figure 1: PESTEL Analysis (Source: Richard, 2000)
Political environment means the ruling party’s nature, the social systems, governmental policies and guidelines etc. (Flethcher and Cooper, 19996). Generally, the government has the role to intervene the economy not for political stability but also for common benefits for the public. Through the development of casino-based integrated resort, the local government of Ledyard can rebuild local community for it can attract more new visitors and bring new sources of revenues for local residents. More importantly, it is a tool for local authority to compete with other ones nearby from many aspects. As seen from this aspect, the development of Foxwoods Resort Casino is a political decision to grow local strength in US economy and make benefits for local residents.
Economic environment includes both macro-and micro-aspects (Nebel and Schaffer, 1992). Macroeconomic environment is related to the size of population, GDP and also the speed of national income growth and so forth. Microeconomic environment concerns with consumer income and other specific factors for business operation. As seen from this aspect, there are many benefits of the development of a hotel based casino in Ledyard. First of all, it is a key for local GDP growth through the consumption generated by travelers and gamblers. Secondly, more employment opportunities can be offered to local residents which are beneficial for the growth of local gross income. Last but not least, it is beneficial for the overall economic growth with the enhancement of transportation and related facilities.
Social and cultural environment mainly concerned with the education level of residents, their beliefs, values and so on. Since there are different needs sourcing from various cultural and social backgrounds in different countries, it increases the potential costs for the integrated resorts to diversify its product design and marketing especially the latter one in different regions. Usually, gambling is regarded as a means of recreation, however, there are many concerns that it may lead to some illegal activities such as money laundering. Since Ledyard is equipped with a mature and healthy legal and social environment, the development of such a casino based integrated resorts can be acceptable.
Technological means the importance of the development of technology investment and science especially those for IT. IT develops and update very fast, this becomes benefits for Ledyard to adopt new technology to help manage business operation of casinos as well as marketing its services nationally and internationally. Environmental factors concerns with environmental and ecological aspects like weather, and climate change, which can affect certain industries and the development of a service-based on integrated resort is environment friendly as compared with other economic activities.
2.2 Evaluation of Foxwoods Resort Casino
The mixed-use concept means that there is a combination of institutional, cultural, residential, industrial or commercial uses of a single building, village, suburban or urban development, and these functions are functionally and physically integrated (Nebel and Schaffer, 1992). As for this case, it refers to an integrated development of a single real estate project. As one of the premier entertainment choices in Ledyard Connecticut, there a variety choice of entertainment and services offered in this destination including six casinos for gambling, hotels with four diamonds, world class spa, restaurants with all tastes, golf of world renowned services, exclusive retailers, convention and meeting space, and state-of-the-art theaters (Foxwoods, 2012). All of these functions integrated provide both business and recreation travllers endless possibilities of experiences. Along with these integrated functions, Foxwoods Resort Casino performs well in business. Although there is no direct data released from the official authority of the company, it is easy to see from its financial capacity of 1.5 billion dollars during the past years that it generates a lot of money for its shareholders and is still attractive in financial market.
However, like other integrated resorts based on gambling, there criticism about problem gambling activities especially from those residents nearby (Olsen, 1991). According to local reports about Ledyard Town, there are some residents complain that gambling activities have affect some aspect of their lives and especially those young people become more speculative although they admit that there are still positive effects such as the increase in employment and local income. Also, since it is located in a small town as compared to other options such as Gambling integrated resorts in Las Vegas, its attraction is limited especially to those who living at the eastern part of the United States. Thus, as seen from this aspect, there is still a lot of work for Foxwoods Resort Casino to do for its future development and continuously generate incomes and benefits for stakeholders.
Overall, Foxwoods Resort Casino did well in the past, however, in order to achieve sustainable development, there are still a lot of works to do, which can be summarized in to the following three aspects.
First of all, there is a need for this integrated resort to integrate with other tourism and entertainment activities in Ledyard to achieve a combined effect and become even more attractive to potential visitors. As for this aspect, there are experiences that Ledyard can learn from Macau. It is well known that the dramatic increase of number of visitors to Macau is mainly due to the development of the gaming industry in this area. According to the Macau tourism board report, in year 2000, there were only 3 officially opened casinos in Macau because of the historical contract between the government and the casino company. In year 2002, the Macau government ranted the Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Galaxy Entertainment Group and MGM Mirage and some other casino operators in Macau. Since then, the number of casinos increased dramatically. And because of the increased number of casinos, Macau is more and more attractive to the tourists whether they are professional gamblers, or they are just tourists who are curious about casinos. That is why the number of visitors to Macau has increase dramatically over the years. However, in recent years, the local government has developed many other options of tourism choices. As for attractions, there are many kinds of choices in Macau from special events to gambling activities, from historic to modern attractions. Table 1 below summarizes a sample of some attractions available in Macau by Jay (2004). It is easy to see that the categories of attractions in Macau include historical, cultural and sporting, natural, special events and built. Also, there are more exact attractions listed in the right column, which are the most famous attractions in Macau in each type that make it attractive to tourists.
As for Ledyard, it can integrate the integrated resort casino with its natural beauty to develop more tourism attraction such as its unique glacial geography for the development of a Glacial Park for enhancing its attractions to potential tourists.
Table 1: Recent Developments and Prospects of Macao’s Tourism Industry
(Source: Jay, 2004)
In addition, since there are tourists with business purpose such as the needs for business meeting and convention, which is a attraction that should be emphasized and supported by local government of Ledyard and the integrated resort casino. The local government can make the development of integrated resorts sustainable by attracting business visitors to use current facilities like hotels and exhibitions centers are equipped at world-class levels, which make it attractive for more worldwide business activities and services as a gateway for local business men to the world outside. Meeting is a critical part in business operation, or saying in another way, it is an internal need for this kind of business travelers (Pearce and Lee, 2005). Also some organizations need to participate in convention to gain more opportunities to showcase their own products and services. This is also their internal demand. Thus they are push factors. However, good meeting and convention facilities and hospitality services provide excellent meeting and convention services attract these business operators. The well equipped Foxwoods Resort Casino gives organization more opportunities to learn from others and obtain more international information. All these are external factors that help business operators choose meeting and convention services of the integrated resort and help its future sustainable development.
Last but not least, according to Liu (2003), a tourism destination has to maintain its current strengths in order to achieve sustainable development. This is also applicable to Foxwoods Resort Casino and there must be activities conducted to strengths its current brand image and service quality. As for Foxwoods Resort Casino, the main events with comedy stars from TV and film, beloved singers, or Las Vegas style extravaganzas have to be continued every year to build up an event brand of entertainment with new data. These events include ISAACS & BAKER and Victory that held every year. These events held usually have loyal participants and will be part of the brand image of Foxwoods and thus makes it attractiveness more sustainable. Also, there should be enhancement of the level of marketing activities with the application of new social media like YouTube, Facebook, Google + and Twitter to get visitors and consumer informed and connected for the built up of a responsible and strong brand image, which is critical for the sustainable development of Foxwoods Resort Casino and other integrated resorts in Ledyard Connecticut.