A survey commissioned by the Macao Government Tourism Office last year has concluded that a “family hostel” concept – proposed as a possible solution to tourist accommodation shortages at the budget end of the market – has yet to gather enough community support in the city.
The survey findings showed “society has not reached a thorough consensus on operation of family hostels in local communities,” the tourism bureau said in a Thursday press release.
The Macao Government Tourism Office added that it would “stay tuned to social changes and continually pay attention to the development of the issue.”
The bureau has yet to clarify how it defines a “family hostel”. According to media reports, the concept could potentially allow for business models similar to Airbnb Inc, which runs an online network enabling people either to list for rent or to rent short-term lodging in residential properties.
In a feasibility study on family hostels it conducted in 2014, the tourism bureau had said a “family hostel” was “not equal to a budget hotel”; and that the existence of a family hostel should be based on “a demand for complementary supplies to remedy room shortages” and should be operated in “single-block buildings”.
The context of the new survey on family hostels is that despite a growing supply of luxury hotel accommodation – by November, there were 36,100 Macau hotel guest rooms, about 22,000 of them in five-star hotels, according to the latest data from the Statistics and Census Service – there has been slower growth in the supply of budget rooms.
The Macau government wishes to attract to the city greater numbers of families and mass-market tourists – the sort of visitors more sensitive to price than traditional VIP gamblers. Most of the latter have their Macau hotel room provided on a complementary basis.
For the latest survey on family hostels, a total of 2,146 responses were collected through face-to-face interviews and online questionnaires, conducted last year.
“The degree of concern and support from the surveyed residents towards the idea of family hostels both declined in 2016,” the tourism bureau’s press release stated. The share of respondents who were familiar with the concept of family hostels dropped from 58 percent in 2014 to 55 percent in 2016, according to the release.
“The proportion of supporters among respondents also decreased slightly from over 62 percent in 2014 to 61 percent in 2016,” the bureau stated.
Respondents in general were concerned about issues such as public safety, environmental hygiene and traffic conditions, the release added.
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"Given the opaque nature of the VIP segment (56 percent of gross gaming revenue in first quarter 2017), forecasting Macau GGR with a fair amount of certainty is difficult; therefore, we remain cautious"