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<p class="mol-para-with-font">LIMASSOL, Cyprus July 11 (Reuters) – Asian casino operator Melco Resorts &amp; Entertainment has launched an entertainment and gaming complex in Cyprus, marking its first foray into Europe as it seeks to tap new markets.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">The "City of Dreams Mediterranean" had total investment of more than 600 million euros ($659.46 million) making it one of the largest development projects of its kind undertaken in Cyprus.
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The operator said it hoped to attract an additional 300,000 visitors to Cyprus annually.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Macau-based Melco has been seeking to diversify geographically. Aside from its Macau properties, it also has a so-called integrated resort in Manila, in the Philippines.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">"City of Dreams Mediterranean ..allows Cyprus to unlock new markets in the region and beyond," said Lawrence Ho, chairman and CEO of Melco.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Cyprus's geographical location, at the crossroads of three continents with its proximity to Israel, North Africa and the rest of Europe was a bonus, as was its "climate and lovely beaches," Ho told Reuters.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">The resort, on the outskirts of the southern city of Limassol, is a sprawling complex comprising of a luxury hotel, venue space, eight restaurants, a massive pool complex, spas and retail outlets.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Centre stage is its gaming area, which operators say is the largest casino in Europe at just over the size of a FIFA World Cup soccer pitch.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Ho said Melco was now focused on fully developing the Cyprus project before considering whether to fan out to the rest of Europe.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Ho said the impact of the COVID pandemic had been tough, but the sector was bouncing back.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">"We have seen a return of tourists into Macau. Our venture in Manila has recovered very nicely.. but even in Macau things are returning, I think to about 90% of pre-COVID levels," he said.

<b>($1 = 0.9098 euros) (Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Sharon Singleton)</p></div></b>
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