Manila Casinos To Benefit From Increased Air Traffic With Seoul

Posted on: July 9, 2024, 05:09h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2024, 05:09h.

Manila casinos are expected to benefit from the Philippines and South Korean governments agreeing to expand weekly air service between the two capital cities.

Manila casinos Philippines South Korean
Incheon International Airport shows a Korean Air airplane on the runway. The Philippines and South Korean governments are expanding air service between their capital cities. Manila casinos are likely to benefit from the increased traffic from Korea. (Image: Shutterstock)

Aviation government officials from the two Asian countries last week signed a memorandum of understanding that will increase weekly seat capacity to 30,000 from 20,000 seats each way from Manila Ninoy Aquino International and Seoul Incheon International. The agreement expands passenger traffic to and from the capital metros, which are among the world’s most populated.

The Manila metro is home to approximately 13 million people, while Seoul has about 25.5 million residents.

Manila and Incheon are both commercial casino markets, though the casinos at Incheon International are reserved for foreigners only. Manila’s Entertainment City casinos — Okada, City of Dreams, Solaire, and Newport Resorts World — welcome both domestic and foreign guests.

Philippines Capitalizing on Travel Boom

The Philippines’ gaming industry continues to grow post-COVID-19. The Southeast Asia nation has benefited from pent-up demand that grew during the pandemic and China’s crackdown on junket groups that had kept Macau’s VIP high roller rooms busy for decades.

Those junkets, which had catered to mainland China’s elite, have refocused their operations to more favorable operating climates like the Philippines. Many of the travel organizers have also looked to other rich countries in Asia where gambling is outlawed or heavily restricted such as South Korea.

The Philippines Department of Tourism reports that South Korea has been the largest feeder country for foreign visitors to the archipelagic nation this year. The Philippines has reportedly welcomed nearly 793K Koreans from January through June, or 28% of the country’s total foreign visitation.

Many of those Koreans, analysts say, stay and play in Entertainment City, as the resorts offer a superior experience to Kangwon Land, the lone remote casino resort in South Korea where Koreans can legally gamble.

The increase in capacity will be felt by the market once airlines take advantage of the opportunity to carry more passenger traffic between the capital cities of the two countries,” the Philippines Department of Transportation said in a release.

Incheon ranked the 20th busiest airport last year with more than 56.2 million passengers, just behind Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International. Incheon’s airport complex features numerous casino resorts, with the newest being Mohegan Inspire, a $1.6 billion integrated resort. 

Tourism Boosts Economy 

The Philippines and South Korean governments have imposed a weekly seat count of 20K passengers between their capital airports since 2017. Airlines have reported demand in excess of the cap since the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no airline seat limits between the countries’ other airports.

Philippines government officials say the influx of tourism from South Korea is positively impacting the nation’s government. Casinos are benefitting, too.

The country expects gross gaming revenue (GGR) this year to reach a record $6.1 billion. Filipino casinos, as well as those owned and operated by the country through its Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, generated GGR of $5.1 billion in 2021.

PAGCOR in the coming years will sell off its state-owned casinos and transition to a regulatory-only capacity.

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