The government of Spain's Catalonia region announced Friday a tourism project with an investment of $6 billion (4.74 billion euros) for the construction of six new complexes featuring hotels and casinos.

Executives of Barcelona World broke the news at a press conference and said the project could create up to 40,000 jobs in all.

They also expect to have 10 million visitors a year and plan to build the biggest leisure center in Europe, with the completion date set for late 2016.

The regional Catalan government described Barcelona World as an alternative to the Eurovegas complex of U.S. magnate Sheldon Adelson, for which Madrid and Barcelona were competing and which will finally be built in the Spanish capital.

The investor in this alternative project is the Veremonte group, whose chief shareholder is Spanish entrepreneur Enrique Bañuelos, and which will be built on land belonging to the La Caixa bank near the Port Aventura theme park.

The promoters' idea is to take advantage of Port Aventura's strong attraction to build around it six themed tourist complexes based on six of the world's geographical areas: Europe, the United States, China, Brazil, Russia and India.

The project is planned to have six hotels with some 12,000 rooms, along with restaurants and a casino for each complex.

During the press conference, the Catalan government said that the project is basically related to leisure and tourism, and that the casinos are an extra.

The press and various citizens' groups in Barcelona and Madrid have criticized the Eurovegas complex because of its predictable mass of casinos and gambling facilities. EFE