Five-star casino resort to open in Bhairahawa

Tiger Palace Resort, a Rs4-billion five-star casino resort newly completed in Bhairahawa, plans to throw open its doors by the first quarter of 2017.

The trade and industrial hub of Bhairahawa, located in the southern Tarai plains close to the Indian border, is also the gateway to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and the site of the country’s second international airport which is expected to be completed in the beginning of 2018.

The 100-room Tiger Palace Resort is being developed by Hong Kong-based Silver Heritage Group. The group has planned a phased investment of more than $100 million and develop a chain of five-star properties across Nepal.

The casino aims to provide expanded gaming opportunities to customers from the growing Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi markets.

According to the group, its primary target market is the big Indian population living within the border including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

The group claims that the property will be the first-of-its-kind five-star casino resort in South Asia. The resort will provide 1,800 jobs, 95 percent of which will go to Nepalis.

“The construction of the property has been completed. We have targeted launching it by the first quarter of 2017,” said Rajendra Bajgai, Nepal representative of the Silver Heritage Group.

As part of its corporate social responsibility, the group plans to spend at least 2 percent of its annual revenues on tiger conservation in Nepal, he said.

Tiger Palace Resort is spread over 16 bighas and features two villas, a gym, spa, swimming pool, restaurants and meeting and banquet facilities suitable for weddings. The resort will provide access to customers to a 2,471 square-metre casino floor.

“Obviously, the southern neighbour will be our key market,” said Bajgai. “We will also be conducting charter flights from Delhi and other Indian cities to bring in high-end casino players,” he said.

The number of Indian outbound travellers has been increasing each year and is expected to reach 50 million by 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Indian travellers are considered to be the second largest spenders after Chinese on overseas travel.

Although Indian outbound has been swelling, the flow of Indian tourists to Nepal has been on a steady decline. Travel trade entrepreneurs have attributed the closure of casinos as one of the key factors for the drop in arrivals to Nepal.

In 2014, the number of Indians visiting Nepal dipped from 180,974 to 135,343, down 25 percent. Inbound from India dived 44.49 percent to a 13-year low of 75,124 individuals in 2015.

The Silver Heritage Group debuted in Nepal last year with the opening of The Millionaire’s Club & Casino at the Shangri-La Hotel in Lazimpat, Kathmandu. According to the group, it has more than 15,000 loyalty card holders including 10,000 Indians and 3,000 Chinese.

The group considers that a cost-effective way to provide a compelling new proposition that is easily accessible to Indian gaming customers is by building substantial casino resort facilities on the border along India within Nepal.

India represents one of the largest untapped and materially underserved gaming markets in the world as only two Indian states currently allow casino gambling, each with constraints, according to the group.

The group plans to open more resorts in Nepal to meet the growing demand in South Asia and across the Asia Pacific region as a whole, a region which has now become the largest gaming market in the world. ek