At a press event in Tokyo on Tuesday, Melco Resorts & Entertainment made some big announcements including that Japanese tennis champion Naomi Osaka has now become brand ambassador and sports group manager for the company’s Yokohama IR offer.
Osaka said of her new position in a video screened at the event: “Being director of sports for Melco and having the chance to contribute to the content of the resort in Yokohama is amazing. Together we will be able to better integrate sport, health, and wellness into the concept.”
Melco Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho also announced the creation of the “Melco Creative Exchange” (MCX), an investment fund of 27 billion yen (approximately US$ 250 million) to create top tourist destinations in the Japanese regions.
The MCX’s first two projects are a modern hot spring facility in Hakone and a Nagano ski resort where the assembled journalists were presented with several concept images. Whether Melco’s Yokohama IR bid is competitive or not, these facilities will be installed.
Following the event, Lawrence Ho explained in more depth why Melco gave up on his Osaka Yumeshima IR bid and launched his strategy of “Yokohama First.”
The Melco chief noted that by developing a world-leading IR, his organisation strives to “under-promise” and “over-deliver,” and that Yokohama is better suited to that dream than Osaka.
He also pointed out that the strong desire of the Osaka government to open the Yumeshima IR before the 2025 World Expo posed a timetable that was too ambitious to produce a genuinely world-class IR, and he was highly sceptical that other operators would succeed.