As Macau's casino operators continue to scale back operations due to the global economic slump, mega resort City of Dreams has launched a mass recruitment drive in search of more than 6,000 staff. With phase one of the project scheduled to open late in the second half of this year, City of Dreams staff numbers will increase from 700 to more than 7,000, including 5,500 workers from Macau. Macau's only big project opening this year is a US$2.1billion casino resort developed by Melco Crown Entertainment. It is situated across the road from the 3,000-room Venetian Macao casino on the Cotai Strip. City of Dreams president Greg Hawkins said construction of phase one, which includes a Crown Towers Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, 420,000 sqft casino, VIP gaming areas, 20 food and beverage outlets and retail space, was proceeding according to plan. There are more than 8,000 construction staff working on the 1,400-room property, with phase two of the resort expected to be opened by the end of this year. Mr Hawkins said while the global economic situation was a challenge, it had not significantly changed the company's plans in the lead-up to the opening. He said there was a 'degree of scaling' involved and once the property was opened, it would be important to be able to 'flex the business up and down' in response to market conditions. 'Everyone operating businesses, not just in Macau but globally, is looking at the appropriate productivity,' Mr Hawkins said. 'From our point of view we are fully funded at the same time as several other large resort sites have decided to stall or put things on hold indefinitely ... we see a positive window of opportunity.' Last November, Las Vegas Sands halted the development of four hotels on the Cotai Strip, namely the Sheraton, Shangri-La, Traders and St Regis, known as parcels 5 and 6, with more than 9,000 workers retrenched, including 4,000 from Hong Kong. In December, Sands laid off 500 employees from the Venetian Macao and announced plans to cut working hours for many remaining staff. City of Dreams recently held its first major recruitment drive in Macau with more than 9,000 people registered. Mr Hawkins said while it was not the company's plan to capitalise on the fact that other operators were suffering, he was confident that City of Dreams would have no problem finding the 5,500 Macau-based employees. 'The quality and numbers of candidates are there,' he said. 'At a time when we are looking for 5,500 quality, passionate and energetic people, there are plenty of other businesses in town looking to reduce some of their operating expenses.' Hong Kong and the mainland are the major target markets to fill the remaining positions. Mr Hawkins said the company would be looking for engineering, information technology and hotel operation staff from Hong Kong. 'It's when you get into the specialist technical areas that we will find it more difficult,' he said. 'We are putting a fair bit of effort into trying to isolate people locally and looking at moving into markets such as Hong Kong, subject to the foreign labour quota approval.' The majority of staff will begin work next month or early April with training programmes to be held at several locations throughout Macau. Staff will move into 'full simulation mode' at the property in the weeks leading up to the opening. 'It's critical that the training ceases and then you give yourself a clear and open path for simulated training of the entire property to try and get as much reality before we open the doors to the public,' Mr Hawkins said. 'I think we are looking at two to three weeks across a 24-hour timeframe, and when you apply that to a range of shifts, it is a reasonable amount of time to really load test and understand our products.' City of Dreams, which is not focused primarily on the VIP gaming market like the group's other casino Crown Macau, will open with 550 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines. 'The market, call it being flat, is still a pretty significant scale market, so the opportunity to attract market share is clearly there if we execute well,' Mr Hawkins said. 'Clearly the market will turn at a point, and establishing a position now will allow us to capitalise on that turn when it comes.