Some restaurants located in Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd’s City of Dreams Macau casino resort (pictured) have been closed due to lack of necessary permit, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has told GGRAsia.
A total of 13 restaurants are being probed by the tourism bureau, MGTO director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, told reporters on Thursday, as quoted by public broadcaster TDM. The tourism bureau is responsible for restaurant licensing.
Ms Senna Fernandes reportedly said that MGTO has completed the investigation into the licensing situation of eight venues. Each of these restaurants has been fined and served with a closure notice, the MGTO boss confirmed. Proceedings related to other five venues are still ongoing, she added.
MGTO’s enforcement action reportedly took place on various dates between 2016 and this year, but has only just become public.
The affected outlets were all located in City of Dreams’ “Soho” zone. The area opened to the public in 2014 and has featured in several marketing campaigns by Melco Resorts.
“This office found the Soho restaurant area had been opened to be public space before licensing,” the tourism bureau had told GGRAsia.
GGRAsia approached Melco Resorts for comment on the issue, including a question about why certain outlets had, according to the tourism bureau, been operating without the necessary licence. In its response to us, the company did not specifically address that issue.
A spokesperson told GGRAsia: “The recent closure of certain restaurants in Soho area is part of the property refurbishment which aims to enhance and refine the overall property experience.”
The person added: “In accordance with local licensing standards, our restaurants at Soho operate under different types of licences. The company and our restaurant operators have been working closely with the authorities on the relevant licensing procedures.”
According to MGTO’s reply to GGRAsia, “the establishing of Soho at City of Dreams Macau involves a change of facilities” inside the casino resort.
It added: “The approval of such changes is still pending applicant follow-up. And hence, the licensing process for the restaurants and bars inside Soho is dependent on the approval for the mentioned changes.”
MGTO stated that once all changes related to the establishment of Soho were approved by the other relevant Macau government departments, the restaurants and bars inside the area could then apply for licensing.
Red tape for new businesses setting up in the hospitality sector is a common complaint among Macau investors. In 2013, Hong Kong-listed Rosedale Hotel Holdings Ltd said it was selling its Macau three-star Oriental Dynasty Hotel. The company said at the time it had applied for a hotel licence in October 2006 and had still been waiting for one when it decided to sell up.
Licensing procedures for hospitality businesses in Macau usually involve several government departments.
(Updated at 6pm, June 22)
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