The company has extended entertainment and food and beverages options in Auckland, and paused hotel expansions in Hamilton and Queenstown.
New Zealand.- SkyCity group has been using the time under lockdown to refurbish its venues in order to cater to a more local clientele as borders in New Zealand remain closed to international tourists.
Foreign visitors and high rollers account for about 15 per cent of the company’s business, income that the operator seeks to replace through local custom for the near future. The company is also improving its non-gaming offer.
Chairman Rob Campbell that losing international business “is a significant dent” but that the company had refocused to cater to locals.
He said: “We will have only very limited amounts of overseas tourism for quite a considerable period of time.
“We have used the close-down period to do some significant refurbishment of our facilities to make it more attractive to domestic customers.”
The latest change was the new VIP table (picture) in the Auckland property, which doubles the previous table in size.
It has opened a new bar called Flare near the main floor, aiming at gaming and non-gaming customers, and will inaugurate an adjacent Food Republic food court.
Where its convention centre used to be, the company is developing an interactive multimedia All Blacks experience and a Weta Workshop experience.
Campbell said: “These are not gambling options, but will broaden our domestic tourism base substantially.
“To New Zealanders they will be substantial attractions over the Christmas and New Year period and when international comes back, they will be significant international attractions.
Early in the pandemic with lockdown measures being imposed, the company downsized its operation and cut 1,000 jobs. It also received about AU$31.1 million (US$22.1 million) in government wage subsidies.
Campbell said the group has paused plans to develop hotels in Hamilton and Queenstown.
He told Stuff: “The level of uncertainty is such that we are not proceeding with those expansion operations at the moment, but we have done a substantial internal refurbishment of the casino in Hamilton.”
In spite of such efforts, the company only expects revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.