Macau should explore ways of enabling a greater number of events to be hosted jointly by the city and the neighbouring mainland China location, Hengqin island, says Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured in a file photo), chairman and chief executive of Macau casino complex operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
The commentary – published on Thursday by local Chinese-language media outlet Macao Daily News – is presented as a policy proposal by Mr Ho, to boost tourism business for both places. Studio City, a Cotai casino resort majority-owned by Melco Resorts, is close by a border crossing point to Hengqin.
A stepping up of Macau-Hengqin collaboration on events and tourism has for some years been touted by commentators and some investors, but visa-related limitations on the ability of many mainland consumers to go forward and back between Macau and Hengqin more than once on a single trip, have been cited as potential barriers to such commerce.
Mr Ho presented his own proposal in his role as a Macau delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the Chinese government. An edition of the conference and of China’s National People’s Congress – known collectively as the “Two Sessions” – are currently being held in Beijing.
Macau should introduce a greater number of “globally influential” sports events, meetings and exhibitions, and seek to co-host some of them with Hengqin, to promote “two-centre” activities, Mr Ho wrote. An easing of visa issuance for these event-goers and a more convenient “cross-border arrangement” should also be beneficial for Macau and Hengqin to develop into a tourism “hotspot”, he added.
The concept of facilitating “borderless” travel between Macau and Hengqin for promoting the two-centre tourism had been mentioned as early as in 2017, by Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s deputy chairman, Francis Lui Yiu Tung, at the casino industry trade show Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia.
Macau is pursuing public policy aimed at diversifying the city’s economy beyond high-stakes gambling by Chinese consumers. As part of that drive, it has a number of slogans including the aspiration of being a “world centre of tourism and leisure”, and also some associated policy goals via its “2nd Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development,” which spans the period 2021 to 2025.
The city is currently also developing a zone on Hengqin to host new industries in partnership with the neighbouring mainland province of Guangdong, called the Guangdong-Macau Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin.
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