Image: William Weidner
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William Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., says he expects his company's massive new casino-hotel to see robust visitor growth.
updated 7/24/2007 4:57:52 PM ET 2007-07-24T20:57:52

Las Vegas Sands Corp. expects full occupancy at its massive new casino hotel in Macau soon after it opens amid robust visitor growth, the company's president William Weidner said Tuesday.

Occupancy at the flagship 3,000-room Venetian Macao is expected to reach 85 percent to 95 percent about a month into business, Weidner told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview.

The U.S. company, which holds one of Macau's six gambling licenses, is set to unveil its $2.5 billion project at the end of August. The Venetian will become one of Asia's biggest casino resorts with 850 gaming tables.

Weidner said strong tourism demand will help fill up the sprawling resort.

"We expect the hotel to be wall-to-wall by October," Weidner said, adding that the hotel isn't targeting just gamblers, but other vacationers and business visitors as well, thus lengthening the duration of each stay.

"The length of stay will be longer than average. We will see the beginning of the overnight market developing," he said.

Weidner expects the average guest to stay at the Venetian for three to four days, compared to the current average of 1.5 days in existing Macau hotels, according to analysts. The Venetian plans to draw a crowd of 40,000 visitors per day at its initial stage, he said.

In addition to gambling facilities, the resort has about one million square feet of retail and exhibition space, as well as 968,000 square feet of retail space.

In the first half of this year, visitor arrivals to Macau jumped 21 percent from a year earlier to 12.64 million, according to official figures.

The rise is fueled by the continued surge in visitors from mainland China to the former Portuguese enclave, which is the only place in the country where casino gambling is legal.

Deutsche Bank AG said earlier it expects 26 million visitors for all of 2007, an 18 percent rise from 22 million last year. The bank expects visitors to rise to 46 million by 2010.

The Venetian is part of Las Vegas Sands' first phase of a large casino resort development modeled on a similar design on the Las Vegas strip.

Las Vegas Sands currently operates one casino, the Sands, in Macau, which opened in 2004. The company said it recovered its initial investment of $285 million for the project within a year of the Sands' opening.

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