The total spending – excluding gaming expenses – of visitors to Macau in the third quarter fell 19.5 percent year-on-year according to data released on Thursday by the city’s Statistics and Census Service. Such spending amounted to MOP12.47 billion (US$1.56 billion) compared to MOP15.49 billion in the prior-year period.
The pace of the year-on-year fall in non-gaming spending by visitors outstripped the pace of year-on-year decline in total visitors to Macau during the third quarter. The statistics service had said in a release on October 26 that the aggregate number of visitors to the city in the third quarter had fallen 1.8 percent from the prior-year period.
Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the third quarter this year fell 34.4 percent year-on-year, according to the local regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
The Macau government has said it wants to see more non-gaming attractions provided by the city’s casino resorts, and that it wants to diversify the city’s tourism sector from reliance on high-stakes gambling.
Whether by coincidence or correlation, there have been times when a rise in aggregate quarterly gaming spending has been accompanied by a rise in aggregate quarterly non-gaming spending.
For example, in the third quarter of 2011, prior to China’s anti-graft campaign and when the Macau VIP gambling market was still booming, Macau quarterly non-gaming spending by visitors rose 24.6 percent year-on-year, according to the statistics service. In the same period, quarterly GGR rose 27.4 percent from the prior-year period, according to data from the casino regulator.
Nonetheless a commentary in August by financial services firm Fitch Ratings Inc had noted that during 2014 market-wide on average, fewer than 10 percent of Macau casino resorts’ gross revenues came from non-gaming activities.
In October, the statistics bureau said Macau’s tourist price index – which reflects the price change of goods and services purchased by visitors – fell by 2.7 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2015. It was the first year-on-year decline in tourist prices in more than 12 years.
In the third quarter this year, the non-gaming spending of all overnight visitors to Macau totalled MOP9.81 billion, down by 23.8 percent year-on-year, while that of same-day visitors increased by 2.0 percent to MOP2.66 billion.
Per capita spending of overnight visitors to Macau in the third quarter this year decreased by 23.9 percent year-on-year to MOP2,519, while that of same-day visitors increased by 5.6 percent, to MOP632. Among the same-day visitors, per capita spending of mainland Chinese visitors was MOP759, up by 7.2 percent year-on-year. That of independent travellers from China – under the country’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) visa system – rose by 6.3 percent, to MOP1,260.
Analysed by consumption structure, visitors spent mainly on: shopping (43.6 percent); accommodation (25.7 percent); and food and beverages (21.9 percent). Per capita shopping spending dropped by 27.2 percent year-on-year to MOP671, which was mostly spent on local food products (33.0 percent).
Visitors from mainland China spent an average of MOP907 on shopping in the third quarter, while IVS visitors spent MOP1,274. The numbers were down by 28.0 percent and 26.2 percent respectively. Meanwhile, long-haul visitors spent their non-gaming budget primarily on accommodation and food and beverages.
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"The [junket] sector has already been trying its best to answer to the Macau government call not to impose lay-offs... But some smaller junket firms that are more financially challenged will likely close"
Kwok Chi Chung
President of the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters