Casino poker table low angle view of poker table edge with drinks well.

The development of the gambling business in Ukraine contributes to an increase in the number of foreign tourists. The flow of guests from the countries of the Middle East has especially increased. Indeed, in addition to the legal casino, Ukraine can offer such tourists a developed system of entertainment – restaurants, service and shopping.

In Kyiv, for example, there are dozens of halal restaurants that do not serve pork and alcohol, with a high level of service and menus in Arabic. And, of course, this makes the country more and more attractive for tourists from Muslim countries. This was told by the Executive Director of Shangri La Kyiv and Storm International Darren Keane, who has been developing the brand’s entertainment complexes for several decades.

He also spoke about the organization of gambling tours. So, in June, a Turkish businessman flew to Kyiv casino, spent in the establishment more than $10,000 and became a VIP client. And when he called again, the operator offered him a week-long tour, which included not only the games. The businessman was given an escort who took him to Khreshchatyk and Sophia Square and told about the history of Ukraine.

Such tours are prepared by two teams, five people each. The first is marketers promoting the company’s services for organizing such tours. For example, a casino hosts a concert of a famous singer or musician, they write about it on the website and send out invitations to customers in Ukraine and abroad. And the second team is managers, their powers include calling customers and booking tickets for flights and hotel rooms.

Another example – a resident of Kuwait was in Ukraine for two weeks with his family. And while the guest was playing in the casino at the hotel, the rest of the family was shopping at the Central Department Store and Ocean Plaza.

Darren Keane noted that Storm International and Shangri La do not have any agreements with other businesses. In the casino, guests are recommended those places that the employees love themselves.

There is a noticeable trend that in 2021 the total number of tourists from the countries of the Middle East has significantly increased. For the first half of 2021 only:

  • 117,713 guests arrived from Turkey, which is 40% more than in 2020;
  • 2229 tourists arrived from Iraq, which is 57% more than in 2020;
  • 47,087 visitors came from Israel, which is 26% more than in 2020;
  • 605 people flew from Qatar, which is 184% more than in 2020;
  • 3072 tourists arrived from the UAE, which is 578% better than in 2020;
  • 1057 people from Oman visited Ukraine, which is 1972% better than in 2020;
  • and Saudi Arabia showed a real record – 29,877 tourists visited Ukraine, which is 6963% better than the figures for 2020.

The owner of Shangri La, Michael Boettcher added: after the decline in the hype from the legalization of casinos in Ukraine, it became noticeable that casino customers prefer network complexes in Georgia, Belarus, and Armenia. The main reason for this is the 19.5% winnings tax paid on any amount won.

As an example, in Belarus, this tax is 2%, in Georgia – no more than 4%. In Ukraine, it is necessary to wait for the adoption of bill No. 2713-d, which will make local casinos more attractive to foreign players.

Luke Johnson