The development of Macau as a “world tourism and leisure centre” as mentioned by China’s central government in its outline plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, could be assisted by “greater equitable engagement with Macau residents and the integrated resort industry,” says a Macau-based expert in the tourism sector.
He was referring to the outline plan released on Monday to the public. It echoed the aspiration for the city that was set out in Macau’s own first Five-Year Development Plan published in April 2016.
The Greater Bay Area is a Chinese central government initiative to integrate the economy and people of mainland China’s Guangdong province with the economies of Macau and Hong Kong, the two neighbouring Special Administrative Regions (SARs).
Glenn McCartney told GGRAsia, alluding to the Greater Bay Area plan and to Macau’s casino sector: “The integrated resorts and the Cotai Strip don’t get a mention in the document, yet are the key revenue provider for the Macau government.”
On Wednesday the city announced it had collected approximately MOP106.78 billion (US$13.21 billion) in direct taxes on gaming in Macau 2018 – 13.6 percent more than in the corresponding period in 2017 – according to data from the Financial Services Bureau.
Mr McCartney is associate professor in international integrated resort management and associate dean (curriculum and teaching) in the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Macau.
He noted in an email in response to GGRAsia’s request for comment on the Greater Bay Area plan: “I have often said we [in Macau] have no clear city branding strategy and a consensus/buy-in from public/private sector” on how to position the marketing of the city “strongly and distinctively”.
He added: “For example the integrated resorts do their celebrity events/entertainment and product development, and the [Macau] government – from the tourism, sport and culture departments – does its events.”
Mr McCartney stated rhetorically: “How does this all link together to present a clear and appealing message regionally and globally to attract these leisure and business travel audiences?”
Macau is currently reliant on tourism from Greater China, with the largest single contributing market being mainland China itself.
The total number of visitor arrivals to Macau in full-year 2018 was slightly above 35.80 million – an all-time annual record – according to data released in January. Of that tally, more than 25.26 million visitors – or 70.6 percent – came from mainland China. Approximately 41.6 percent of the visitors from mainland China had been travelling from neighbouring Guangdong province.
In order to make Macau a tourism centre with greater global appeal, it would be helpful to have greater “public consultation on tourism development” with the city’s inhabitants, said the scholar.
The Greater Bay Area initiative covers nine cities in Guangdong as well as the two SARs.
Mr McCartney described the outline plan for the Greater Bay Area – amounting to 62 pages in the English translation – as “a very thorough planning/vision guide”. He added: “I do like the concepts and ideas,” including “city clusters” working to assist the whole region, and the “leveraging of each city’s strengths”.
Though he also noted that “as with every planning document,” factors including “execution and collaboration” were keys to success, to ensure there was clear accountability and clarity on what was to be delivered by which particular bodies or organisations.
On Tuesday, Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd, had told GGRAsia by email that the Greater Bay Area plan was clear evidence of the Chinese central government’s desire to see Macau succeed.
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”For the [Macau] government, I think if they can be sympathetic to the gaming industry – to the contribution that we have made for the community and the society – that will be good”
Vice-chairman at Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group