Tony Fung buys Gold Coast Sheraton, plans casino

Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung is continuing his expansion in Queensland with the acquisition of the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast for A$160 million ($127 million), according to local media.

Fung plans to turn the property into a luxury casino resort, he told Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail in an interview.

“The Gold Coast is one of those rare destinations that enjoys instant recognition throughout Asia,’’ Fung told the newspaper, but added the region has yet to reach its full potential.

“As the only five star resort on the Gold Coast that enjoys a beachfront location, the Mirage property has a host of natural advantages in its current use or as a future development opportunity.’’

Fung still needs a new casino license agreement and probity approval from the Queensland government.

The Marina Mirage site would be re-developed into a new waterfront convention centre, dining, shopping and entertainment destination – with upgraded superyacht berthing facilities, the report said.

Fung and his Aquis group has announced ambitious plans for Queensland, with investment of more than $8 billion earmarked for a luxury casino resort at Yorkeys Knob and the recent acquisition of Casino Canberra.

The Aquis Great Barrier Reef resort to be built at Yorkeys Knob recently received environmental approvals and is now just waiting on a casino agreement with the State Government.

Fung bought Casino Canberra in December and is now seeking a backdoor listing for the company through the takeover of rare-earths explorer, Discovery Resources.

The group and other investors are seeking to woo a growing number of VIPs from mainland China. The recent slump in Macau on the back of China’s anti-corruption campaign has already been benefiting Australian casino operators, with incumbents Echo Entertainment and Crown Resorts reporting strong VIP traffic.

New direct flights from China to the Gold Coast are also scheduled to begin in September.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones on Tuesday signed an agreement with Jetstar Airways and Hubei Wanda New Airline International Travel Services Co. Ltd to secure the new direct flights between China and the Gold Coast.

Premier Palaszczuk said under the landmark agreement, Jetstar would operate two flights a week between Wuhan and the Gold Coast providing seats for up to 35,000 additional travellers a year.

“The new route represents an important aviation milestone for Queensland, marking the introduction of the first non-stop services from China into the Gold Coast,” Palaszczuk said.“Over two years the Wuhan-Gold Coast service has the potential to generate $53 million in visitor expenditure to the local economy, in turn supporting jobs and small business.”