The Macau government wants to strengthen promotion of tourism products related to non-gaming elements, as it says casinos are exerting “too much influence” on the city’s tourism branding.
The aim is included in a consultation paper on the ‘Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan’, outlined on Monday by the Macao Government Tourism Office.
The paper also includes a forecast indicating that the city could welcome up to 40 million visitor arrivals per year by 2025.
The document – available in English (click here), and in Chinese and Portuguese, Macau’s two official languages – is under public consultation until July 22.
The Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan aims to set the direction for the sector’s future over the next 15 years. The government expects the final version of the master plan to be ready by mid-2017.
The main goals of the plan are: to promote a sustainable growth of the tourism industry in Macau; to advance the diversification of tourism products available in the market; to attract a greater number of high-value visitors to the city; and to improve the quality of the experience that tourists have in Macau.
“Gaming has exerted too much influence on the tourism branding of Macau. Promotions related to non-gaming tourism products should be strengthened in the future,” the consultation paper states.
It adds: “Macau has the potential to exhibit an impressive image by reconciling its resort facilities, MICE [meetings and conventions], arts and festival events all into one integrated brand.”
The paper estimates Macau will record between 33 million and 40 million tourist arrivals per year by 2025. That compares with the 30.7 million visitor arrivals logged last year.
In the first four months of 2016, visitor arrivals to Macau totalled 9.9 million, down by 0.3 percent in year-on-year terms, according to official data published on Monday.
Currently, most of Macau’s visitors come from mainland China. In 2015, 66.5 percent of Macau’s total visitors were from mainland China, according to official data. Visitors from Hong Kong made up a further 21.3 percent of the total.
The head of the Macao Government Tourism Office, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, said at the consultation paper presentation press conference, that the authorities aimed to increase the number of international visitors to Macau – i.e. those visitors coming from outside Greater China – to between 14 percent and 15 percent of the total by 2025, from the current 9 percent.
Non-gaming revenue to double
The master plan consultation paper also forecasts that annual non-gaming tourism revenue could double over the next 10 years, from US$6.4 billion in 2015 to between US$12 billion and US$14 billion in 2025.
The document does not say how much of that increase would come from non-gaming products offered by the city’s casino resorts.
According to the Macau government’s “mid-term” review report of the local casino industry – disclosed earlier this month – non-gaming business generated revenues of MOP23.2 billion (US$3.0 billion) for Macau’s casino operators in 2014.
Under the Macau government’s proposed Five-Year Development Plan – another recently-announced package of social and economic policies covering the period 2016 to 2020 – the authorities want to see non-gaming revenue at the city’s casino resorts rise as a proportion of all revenue.
By 2020 the Macau government wishes to see such non-gaming revenue account on average for at least 9 percent of all revenue generated by casino operators, compared to an estimated 6.6 percent in 2014.
Some industry insiders say diversification of the Macau tourism market is challenging because Chinese customers at the city’s large casino resorts mainly want to spend their money on gambling.
“The Chinese-oriented consumer has been demanding gaming product – overwhelmingly,” Andy Choy, chief gaming officer for Melco International Development Ltd, told a panel session at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia 2016 last week. The firm is an investor in Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, operator of City of Dreams, Altira and Studio City properties in Macau.
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"The protests in Hong Kong may have caused some transport disruption and created a headwind to China visitation into Hong Kong (and onward visitation into Macau), but we believe the impact on GGR from the Hong Kong protests has been more minor"
Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford Bernstein