By Arra B. Francia, Reporter
BELLE CORP. seeks to expand its leisure and tourism offerings across the country, starting with the addition of hotel and non-gaming operations in the City of Dreams Manila to meet the demand for more accommodations inside Entertainment City.
The gaming and property arm of country’s richest man Henry Sy, Sr. said it has proposed the expansion of City of Dreams Manila’s hospitality component to Melco Resorts and Entertainment (Philippines) Corp.
Belle currently has a land bank of one hectare inside the property.
“We’ve proposed to Melco for an expansion because we need more hotel rooms. We are almost full to capacity every time. So the ball is in their court, we are waiting to hear back from them with their plans and designs,” Belle President and Chief Executive Officer Manuel A. Gana told reporters after its annual shareholder’s meeting in Pasay City on Monday.
With around 900 hotel rooms inside the City of Dreams, Mr. Gana said average occupancy rate is more than 90%.
Belle holds a cooperation agreement with Melco Resorts, giving it a share of City of Dreams’ gaming revenues through its 78.7%-owned unit Premium Leisure Corp.
The expansion will include more non-gaming facilities such as a ballroom and swimming pools, according to Mr. Gana.
Outside the City of Dreams, Mr. Gana said Belle is also in the process of developing around 800 hectares of land across Tagaytay City and Batangas. The company’s existing developments in the area include Sycamore Heights and Plantation Hills inside the Tagaytay Highlands mixed-use project.
Asked whether the company targets to have more gaming licenses, Mr. Gana said they are “very interested” in acquiring more.
“If it’s possible to get another license, it’s something we will be very interested in having. But we need PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) to grant another license… At the end of the day, everything needs PAGCOR approval. It’s something we’d like to get,” Mr. Gana said.
PAGCOR issued a moratorium on approvals of applications for new casino operations last February, after President Rodrigo R. Duterte raised concerns on the growth of the such establishments in the country.
Should PAGCOR move to privatize its operations, Mr. Gana said Belle might consider bidding for new locations for its gaming operations outside Metro Manila.
The listed firm also disclosed on Monday a 10% increase in net income for the first quarter of 2018 to P857 million.
Belle’s share in the operations of City of Dreams Manila picked up by 8% to P474 million, while operating income from its real estate business increased by 27% to P571 million. The company noted that a significant portion of its real estate performance came from the lease of its land and buildings to City of Dreams.
Shares in Belle dropped 10 centavos or 2.91% to close at P3.34 apiece at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday.