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Essential information and facts about Christmas Island:


Capital


Total Area Population


Ethnic Groups Languages


Te Settlement 135sq.km 2,205


Religion Muslim, Buddhist, Roman Catholic


Chinese, European and Malay


English (Official), Mandarin, Malay.


Currency Australian dollars (AUD)


Government type Non self-governing overseas territory of Australia


Chief of State Queen Elizabeth II (represented by Peter Cosgrove Australia)


Head of Government Administrator Natasha Griggs Elections October 2020 (administrators serve a two year term).


“Te Australian government recognises the significant community interest in re-establishing a casino on Christmas Island to provide employment, increase economic activity and boost tourism. Te casino proposal is complex and needs to be rigorously worked through including assessing its financial viability and developing the regulatory framework.


casino market and existing Asian casinos may affect viability. With regard to the latter, respondents highlighted that the safety and anonymity of Christmas Island is a competitive advantage for an Asian market. Respondents indicated that the competitive advantage of the previous casino relied on a visa on arrival for gamblers from Indonesia which no longer exists.”


THE CASINO STORYA dot in the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island was discovered on that festive


day in 1643. Te British discovered phosphate in 1887 and the island population grew as Sikhs, Malays and Chinese were imported to work in the mines. Once a British colony, it was placed under the Crown Colony of Singapore in 1946. Later in 1958, Britain transferred sovereignty to Australia.


Christmas Island is about 300km south of Java and 1,600km off the north west coast of Australia. Around 63 per cent of it is National Park.


It is made up of only 2,200 people with a diverse community. Around 21 per cent are Chinese, 13 per cent Australian and 12 per cent Malay.


Domestic tourism from Australia is limited. Tis is predominantly due to high flight costs and the need to transit in Perth. Te island requires significant improvements to its international hubs to increase tourism figures.


Frank Woodmore, a Perth property developer, first conceived the island casino. When Indonesia closed its casinos in the 1980s, the casino opened on Christmas Island and it saw a huge influx of visitors from Jakarta.


However, in 1997 flight services were cut and a year later the Asian financial crisis struck and the tourism industry collapsed. Te casino went bankrupt and was closed.


Total passenger arrivals to Christmas Island airport had peaked in 1994/95 to around 20,000, of which 14,000 were international arrivals. Tis dropped to 6,000 total arrivals by 1998, with only 2,500 being international arrivals. Today, there are flights in from Perth, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.


With the closure of the detention centre many islanders now want to focus on an island tourism business.


Recently, Michael Philipps from the Australian government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, said: “Active consideration of re-issuing a licence for an integrated resort, including a casino licence, on Christmas Island continues. Market sounding and work into how a licence might be structured was completed in December and January, followed by a meeting between Australian and Western Australian governments in February to discuss potential regulatory arrangements.


“Te Australian government recognises the significant community interest in re- establishing a casino on Christmas Island to provide employment, increase economic activity and boost tourism. Te casino proposal is complex and needs to be rigorously worked through including assessing its financial viability and developing the regulatory framework.


“Te department is working with other Australian government agencies to resolve issues relating to a casino including social impacts, additional infrastructure needs, a tax regime and community benefit fund, licence conditions and impacts on national security.”


Te department has now opened a discussion paper on the establishment of a casino on the island. Tis will go forward to a proposal for consideration by the Australia Government, which will then decide whether to issue a casino licence.


NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA P63


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