It could take “another 30 years” for the Macau gaming market to mature in terms of consumer penetration rates to a level similar that of Las Vegas, suggests a senior industry executive.
Kelvin Tan Hai Ching, executive vice president of international marketing for Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, told a conference session of the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia 2014 that, based on recent figures from investment bank Goldman Sachs, the current addressable market penetration rate (among those economically qualified to visit and living within a certain number of hours in travelling time) was 2.8 percent. That, he said, compares with Las Vegas at 16.9 percent.
“It suggests it will take another 30 years for the Macau market to mature [to that level],” stated Mr Tan.
He added that he expected aggregate visitor numbers to Macau – standing at 29.3 million last year – to grow by around “five to six percent” year-on-year for the next few years. That’s until all the infrastructure improvements currently under way in the region – including the high-speed rail link from Zhuhai to neighbouring Hengqin Island due in 2016, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai- Macau bridge and and the first phase of the Light Rail Transit system on Taipa and Cotai – have been completed.
The issue of the capacity of Macau to absorb ever-larger numbers of visitors has been raised recently by members of the territory’s Legislative Assembly.
In January Li Gang, the newly-installed head of the Chinese central government’s representative office in Macau, said there would be no “blind expansion” of tourism into Macau.
He added that Beijing has no plans currently to expand the existing individual visit scheme allowing mainland residents from select cities to travel independently to Macau.
The IVS system, first launched in 2003, allows mainlanders to visit Macau and Hong Kong as individuals rather than as part of tour group or under business visas. A total of 270 million people in 49 mainland cities – about a fifth of China’s population – are currently eligible to apply according to Hong Kong’s Tourism Commission.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China