SJM executive-cum-lawmaker Angela Leong On Kei told reporters on Wednesday that there is a high probability that the opening of the Grand Lisboa Palace casino-hotel resort in Cotai will be postponed until next year, adding that SJM’s board of directors had been having multiple meetings concerning the matter.
Leong, who is SJM’s managing director, made the remarks on Wednesday during SJM’s National Day celebration cocktail reception at Grand Lisboa Ballroom.
According to Leong, SJM worries that the shops in the hotel might not have enough time and ability to recruit staff and stock products due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. She also said that if the hotel opened by the end of the year and could not open non-gaming facilities then it would “not be ideal”.
Leong said that the preparations for Grand Lisboa Palace were completed and the property has already received an operator’s licence from the government. However, when asked whether the hotel has already received a gaming licence, Leong said: “This question should be answered by another department”.
Leong confessed that during the mainland’s National Day/Mid-Autumn Festival Golden Week, which comes to an end today, the income generated by SJM’s properties was “less than expected”.
She pointed out that the latter half of the holiday had more tourists than the first few days of the eight-day Golden Week holiday. Leong said that this could be because there were travel permit issues or traffic problems during the first few days of the holiday, but the number of tourists was increasing gradually.
When asked if Leong thought the government should loosen its COVID-19 prevention and control measures, she replied that it would depend on the situation.
“Of course, easing the measures would be great because it also means that the [novel coronavirus] is far away from us,” Leong said. However, she was quick to add that Macao’s COVID-19 prevention and control measures are known world-wide, pointing out she understood that the government needed to be careful.
When asked about the SJM staff situation and benefits, she said that her employees are all working. When reporters asked again if the company cut any staff benefits or fired anyone during the COVID-19 crisis, she replied that “in the past few months, everyone could see the situation”.
Leong said that due to COVID-19 pandemic, the government has not yet been discussing the city’s new gaming concessions. She said that right now the government was focusing on the city’s economic recovery and novel coronavirus prevention and control measures.
Macao’s three gaming concessions and three sub-concessions expire in 2022.
When asked whether she would ask the government for a gaming concession extension for her company, Leong said that it depended on when the government starts discussing the topic.
During Wednesday’s cocktail reception, Daisy Ho Chiu Fung, chairperson and executive director of SJM, said in a speech via video link from Hong Kong that the opening of the new Hengqin checkpoint and the resumption of nationwide travel from mainland China into Macao were helping Macao’s tourism sector and its economy. She also said that SJM would strive to make Grand Lisboa Palace one of the most significant tourism brands in the Greater Bay Area.