Madrid’s Two Biggest Opportunities for a Tourism Revival Fall Through in 2013

Dec 13, 2013 10:20 am

Skift Take

Visitors to Madrid continue to slump and the 2014 outlook is bleak. Few companies are willing to invest amid Spain’s economic malaise, making the capital’s best hope for a revival a homegrown initiative.

— Samantha Shankman

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Jeff Scheid  / Reuters

Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson testifies on the witness stand at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada April 4, 2013. Jeff Scheid / Reuters

U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands said on Friday it was abandoning plans to invest over $30 billion in a gambling resort outside Madrid, a major blow to the capital as Spain tries to restart its economy after a five-year slump.

The gaming group said it will continue aggressive pursuit of opportunities in Asia after dropping the project in Madrid.

Spain’s government had rejected some of the demands put forward by Las Vegas Sands, including guarantees of compensation in case of future legislative changes, El Mundo newspaper reported earlier on Friday.

The project, known as Eurovegas, had been slated to include six casinos, 12 hotels and many shops, and was set to create as many as 250,000 jobs, a welcome boost in a country where one in four of the workforce is unemployed.

But it had run into various delays and obstacles in recent months.

Las Vegas Sands and its Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson had also been pushing for an exemption from a national smoking ban, putting Madrid’s local politicians at odds with central government legislation as they tried to get the project going.

Spain’s capital city had already suffered a blow earlier this year when its bid to host the Olympic Games failed for the third time in a row.

The Olympics and the Eurovegas project had been hailed by politicians as motors of a recovery in Madrid, which has seen rolling public sector strikes after deep spending cuts and has not capitalized on a rise in tourism in Spain this year.

Visitors to the Madrid region fell by about a fifth in August from a year earlier, while Catalonia, home to the more popular seaside city of Barcelona, welcomed 12 percent more.

Reporting by Sarah White in Madrid and Maria Ajit Thomas in Bangalor. Editing by David Holmes.

Copyright (2013) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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