QUA 21 DE MARÇO DE 2018 - 11:38hs.
Alain Baldacci, SINDEPAT president

"The wider the tourism policy is linked to casinos, the better for Brazil"

(Exclusive GMB) - With the regulation of gaming and future instalation of casinos, tourism is expected to warm up throughout Brazil. This was the topic of GMB's talk with Alain Baldacci, president of SINDEPAT - Integrated System of Parks and Tourist Attractions-, which commented that for casinos to have an even greater impact on the sector, it is necessary to think with an open mind and defended the creation of Special Tourism Zones around new gaming and entertainment facilities.

GMB - Can you give us a brief summary of the SINDEPAT trajectory? How it came about, its causes and what it stands for today.
Alain Baldacc - SINDEPAT is turning 15 in this 2018, it came out in 2003. I had been president of the World Parks Association, based in the United States, in 2002. Returning from there, it was already my idea to design an entity in the Brazil, like the World Association, which is a theme park and tourist attraction. We already had an association here which is was the Amusement Park Association, I understood that the theme parks and the attractions are a bit different from the amusement parks, which are tourist equipment and this coincided with the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism, in the first Lula government.
At first SINDEPAT would be a union, but, since there was no registration, it became a class association that today is called the Integrated System of Parks and Tourist Attractions in Brazil. We defend, protect, and disseminate the positive image of the park sector to the various levels of government, legislative and executive. The objective of SINDEPAT is to show legislators who establish the laws the importance of the pro-tourism sector and the defense of interests that can harm and benefit the activity.

What is SINDEPAT’s position regarding the legalization of gaming in Brazil? How have you followed the progress of the bills in Congress?
When I was president of the World Association I traveled the world as it was my job. Gaming, casinos, are present in many areas of the world and has a positive factor in tourism when it is well ordered, standardized. At first, gaming is a tourist attraction, an activity that attracts a lot of people. It's a bit different from our theme park niche, but what happened in Las Vegas showed that both tourist activities can coexist perfectly. The casino for people who bet and enjoy gambling and the tourist attraction of fun and entertainment for people that do not necessarily bet, but can be in the same environment in a very peaceful way. So, if gaming is normalized and stimulated to be a tourist equipment, SINDEPAT is in favor. If it is considered only isolated casinos without relation with tourism, then thar idea is more harmful that positive.

In the legalization projects being considered in Congress, casinos are conditioned to build resorts with different attractions besides gambling. Do you agree with this model?
In this line, talking about building the resort simply with hotel is not enough. We have a suggestion that in places with tourist interest, it would be more suitable not only a resort side to the casino, but a whole environment dedicated to tourism. We think on something bigger, as I mentioned Las Vegas. We would have to think of something more comprehensive that allows other equipment as well. If you have a casino within a resort you are confined to that physical space, but if it is something more comprehensive such as polo within a city, you will have several concert halls, theme parks, tourist attractions, etc. This would rather be one better model.

The idea would be a specific area, such as the free zone of Manaus where the government gives an incentive to manufacture electronic products, where there would be an investment to have improvements with parks, concert halls, conventions, everything around the casino. And within this area of tourist interest could not have real estate speculation, industrial intervention, the commercial area should be linked exclusively to the tourist area, which would have as anchor the casino. This is our idea that we think is the best for Brazil.

What impact can gaming legalization bring to the tourist attractions that already exist throughout Brazil in different aspects of tourism? Do you think these attractions can also benefit from regulation?
If we leave the casino at a resort only it will not be a tourist attraction, it will attract only those who enjoy gambling. Those who gamble do not go out to visit parks and attractions, they stay in their favorite activity. When you open to bring families, children and young people that don’t bet but, it is accompanying; the impact can be positive because they come to a destination with different attractions. The more ample the creation of the tourist spirit around the casino the more positive it will be for the other activities.

How does SINDEPAT evaluate the progress of the projects in Congress?
I have accompanied as a member of the National Tourism Council. The Ministry of Tourism and the Council are in favor. I think this discussion has to be very mature. Gaming is a very big taboo here, it already existed in Brazil and was extinct in the last century; has a stigma of bringing about social problems. But by contrast, legal gambling is coordinated by the state with all its federal lotteries, so there is a precedent. This discussion has to occur, society needs to understand what kind of game will be opened with the new legislation, the benefits for society, especially for tourism, for the generation of jobs and how to fight possible problems. This debate is occurring, in Brazil things take time. I think this is at an adequate pace, the Chamber of Deputies has done a great job, discussing the subject, always putting it on the agenda. I think it's going as it should be.

Generation of new jobs is one of the main points addressed by the defenders of the activity. Do you think these new venues could extend to other tourist attractions not related to gaming? How to prepare professionals for these vacancies?
This is a big point, we need to be open to legalization because we are living in an increasingly automated society. This casino activity that takes gambling to move physically to the place, it implies that the person who is playing need to be met, the structure of the casino has an excellent job generation. In this aspect it is very positive, Brazil needs employment and this is very good. As for the employment in the tourist attraction, we already talked about the impact that the casino can have on the existing attraction. If the casino is in an isolated resort the generation of employment is restricted to the resort; if it is placed in a tourist district or has the ability to attract non-players, it'll help with jobs at other attractions as well.

World's leading casino companies such as Caesars and Sands have already been in Brazil presenting major projects for not only gaming complexes, but resorts and other attractions. How do you evaluate the interest of these groups in Brazil?
If the casinos were really deployed in our tourism policy, I think it is independent whether the investor is Brazilian or foreign. I do not see that new players coming from elsewhere can be harmful since the important thing is the equipment. If we have the competence of Brazilian investors who can install this equipment, great. If not, if it come from outside companies that already have experience, a world brand, it will also be very good. I also think there is room for national investors and for foreigners. The important thing is that the graduates are healthy, good, that benefit tourism. And the more empowerment, experience, innovation, the will to do, is all welcome.

What is the projection the entity makes for tourism in Brazil after the approval? Do you believe in a significant growth both for gaming and non-gaming activities?
It is what we talked about during this conversation, if the legislation that will be implemented is signed, surrounded by the incentive of tourist activity, and even better, if it comes with legislation of special areas of tourist interest, this will greatly benefit Brazil. I do not think that any tourism activity alone is capable of substantially changing our reality, but if the legislation is adequate for the creation of tourism activity, it will contribute a lot to that growth.
Now, if we are too restrictive leaving the casinos isolated, limited to the specific resort, something exclusive or narrow, the impact will not be so great. Of course it will always help because it generates jobs, income, taxes, social benefit exists, but, it will not have much meaning for tourism in general. There will be an addition to the player coming from abroad, but if he is charmed with a policy in a broader way, you will have a tour of people of all ages coming to the destination. All models will contribute, but the wider the implementation of casinos, the more it will contribute to the national tourism incentive.

Source: GMB Exclusive