The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is currently surveying local residents regarding the possible introduction and regulation of what it terms “family hostels” in the city. The study began on Thursday and runs until August 29.
The survey – via online questionnaire and street interview – does not state an official definition of “family hostel”. But in a feasibility study on family hostels it conducted in 2014, MGTO said such accommodation 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 and 2014′s feasibility study is that despite a growing supply of luxury hotel accommodation – by June, there were 32,100 Macau hotel guest rooms, 20,500 of them in five-star hotels, according to 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.
Official data for June show that the occupancy rate for the lowest standards of Macau accommodation currently registered with the authorities – two-star hotels and guesthouses – was lower than for luxury accommodation. That for two-star was 66.3 percent, and for guesthouses 52.4 percent; compared to a minimum of approximately 82 percent for three-star hotels and above.
In August 2010 Macau passed legislation designed to tackle a separate problem: the operation of unlicensed, and therefore illegal, inns. In September that year, MGTO and the city’s Legal Affairs Bureau launched a campaign via multiple media, warning visitors to use only licensed hotels and inns.
In the latest MGTO survey on “family hostels”, a sample of Macau residents aged 18 and above are being asked what criteria any such hostels should meet and if this type of accommodation would be useful in the current market.
Those surveyed will also be asked for their opinion on: whether only existing occupiers of buildings should be allowed to operate family hostels in those buildings; and whether such establishments could be developed in places not already zoned for hotel development.
Local residents are also being asked which districts in the city would be the best settings for family hostels, and what should be the range of room rates for such accommodation.
The majority of gamblers in Macau’s casinos are tourists. But several investment analysts have said that headline visitor numbers are not directly correlated to overall gaming demand, as gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the Macau market has been typically skewed to high-end play.
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