Ekran Berhad investing US$ 20 M to reopen P1.5-B Samal Casino Resort this year
By Digna D. Banzon
DAVAO CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA) — Ekran Berhad Sdn, a Malaysian conglomerate that owns a chain of big hotels, is set to re-open this year the Samal Casino Resort in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte.
Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on Mindanao and the Philippine Signing Minister for the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), said the revival of the casino resort was confirmed by its Malaysian owner, headed by Tan Sri Datuk Ting Pek Khiing, executive chairman of Ekran Berhad Sdn. during a recently held bilateral meeting between the Philippines and Malaysia in Brunei Darussalam.
Dureza said the P1.5 billion tourism complex in Samal’s Kaputian District would soon be back in full business.
He said the meeting was a side event of the BIMP-EAGA Roundtable Discussion on the Community-based Ecotourism (CBET) development, which was part of the week-long 18th BIMP-EAGA Senior Officials and 14th Signing Ministers meeting and other related events held in Brunei Darussalam on August 5-8.
Meanwhile, Ekran Berhad officials also said they were working on the revival of the Davao-Kota Kinabalu air link, in partnership with the Malaysian Airlines, which used to ply the route in 1990s before it folded up operations due to low passenger load.
“As a result of the meeting, we’re putting back on track the Samal Casino Resort. This is an indication of a sound business environment in Mindanao and across borders as there is now an opportunity to reconnect in the south,” Dureza said.
Dureza, along with Samal Mayor Aniano Antalan, Tourism Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab and Davao Del Norte Congressman Anton Lagdameo, met with Ekran Berhad officials in Brunei to discuss and agree on the most feasible arrangement that will facilitate the re-opening of the resort.
“This will surely boost tourism and employment opportunities and expected to generate P50 million in various taxes,” said Lagdameo, also chairperson of the House Committee on BIMP-EAGA Affairs. In its bid to reopen the resort, Ekran Berhad Sdn. is set to infuse an estimated US$ 15 to US$ 20 million new capital investment. “The plan to resume the operations of Ekran was based on sound business decision. Sa tingin nila maganda na ang business environment sa Mindanao,” said Trade Undersecretary Merly Cruz, the Philippine Senior Official for BIMP-EAGA.
The Samal Casino Resort, which sits on a 250-hectare area in Samal is about 30 minutes by boat from Sta. Ana wharf, Davao City, Mindanao’s premier economic hub.
The resort started operating as a hotel and casino in late 1997 with 300 rooms and a ballroom that could accommodate 3,000 people. It is one of the large scale investments ushered by an agreement forged between Philippines and Malaysia in the early 1990’s under the BIMP-EAGA initiative. (PNA) RMA/Digna D. Banzon/lvp