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Gambling: the new frontier of tourism

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 1 Novembre 2002

Tourism undergoes constant transformations, following and sometimes preceding social trends and developments. Hotels are the clearest evidence; since the beginning of the century, they have undergone changes at an increasingly fast rate. We need only think of the last few years, with the advance of a number of contradictory proposals – from megahotels to boutique hotels, from congress hotels to garni Hotels. There are marked differences, with the corollary of other interpretations of the tourist demand: agritourism, hotels within theme parks, cruises, adventure travels. More than ever before, attention is now focusing on the satisfaction of diverse needs. I recently went to the presentation of a new luxury hotel of Kempinski in St Moritz, which has been developed by retrofitting a historical structure in Bad, in the less “fashionable” section of the Grigioni town. It is always a good thing when old structures such as the Hotel Des Bains are recovered and significantly upgraded; however, I could not help wondering how such a large investment could be justified economically. The answer arrived almost immediately: the St Moritz casino will be moved from its historical location at St Moritz Dorf to the new hotel. In line with the fluctuations of the current times, gambling is by now increasingly becoming a fundamental component of the tourist offer. We are no longer in the pioneers times, in the USA, when gambling involved going through the barren Californian desert of Mojave and that of Nevada, and then entering a fairytale dimension. Now casinos have multiplied in the United States as well, justified by unlikely explanations – the Indian reservations, the river boats, a previously disintegrating community like Atlantic City… and what have you. We read that Macao is planning to become one of Asia’s most important tourist destinations by developing gambling facilities, while in other parts of the world, such as Sun City in South Africa, gambling has favoured the development of important projects from scratch. This is the current trend, and the importance of gambling has been well understood by the UK and Switzerland, which have modified their attitudes in favour of more expansive legislation. In Italy, with competition now at the door, a new large casino is being built at Campione, and this may be an opportunity to improve the offer and service quality.

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