Last updated: 09:38 AM ET, Tue August 02 2016

Could Horse Racing Bring Chinese Tourists to St. Lucia?

Hotel & Resort | Michael Schottey | August 02, 2016

Could Horse Racing Bring Chinese Tourists to St. Lucia?

Photo by Brian Major

St. Lucia is hoping to entice Chinese tourists with a Pearl of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean island of St. Lucia certainly is not the first market to directly target the massive Chinese tourism market, but they may have learned so much from previous tourism boards’ attempts that their advertisements will be pitch perfect.

Pearl of the Caribbean will be a $2.6 billion development encompassing not only a luxury resort, but also shopping, leisure, entertainment and a free trade zone alongside a casino and horse race track.

 READ MORE: Chinese Tourism Is Becoming Increasingly Important 

St. Lucia has been known for horses, horse riding and its stables for years, but the pivot directly toward high-end racing is tailored for a Chinese market that is not only one of the largest horse betting markets in the world, but also one of the fastest growing.

That fact, combined with a casino and shopping emphasis, directly mimics what so many resorts and cruise companies have found out over the past years by trial and error and packages it in a setting that could become a significant hotspot very quickly.

The other side of this equation is that Pearl of the Caribbean is equally positioned to facilitate a significant pivot toward a burgeoning and suddenly very popular Chinese investor class.

Desert Star Holdings Ltd. is a Hong Kong-based company that is developing the resort through its subsidiary DHS Caribbean Star Ltd. DHS is already planning more horseracing and breeding operations throughout Asia and hopefully into mainland China.

Wagering is still illegal in China, but the government has only recently lifted the ban on horse racing and many feel the country is missing out on the valuable dollars spent by the Chinese gambling overseas or in places like Hong Kong and Macau.

While Pearl of the Caribbean will eventually need to be judged on its own merits, the company building it may eventually strike an even bigger payday if the resort helps position them atop a potentially lucrative gold mine. 

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