The story of Macau and its appeal to tourists who are not only interested in gambling is very interesting. It is not just relevant to the enclave and its long-term financial opportunities. Tourism versus gambling is an important element of the entire global casino industry. Right now, many analysts are trying to figure out how these two interact in the world’s biggest gambling center.
This year, stats are showing the Macau tourism industry is flourishing. The city’s Statistics and Census Service show that the number of visitors to the enclave rose by over 25 percent year over year. The rise in the visitor number covers both same-day visits and those that last more than a day. However, growth came from the same day visits. The overnight stays rose by 10 percent, but single-day tourist numbers skyrocketed.
They now number 1.8 million that is a 43 percent hike. This is mainly due to the HKZM bridge that is able to quickly carry tourists during key periods like the Labor Day holiday. In fact, all numbers of visitors are up, except those coming by boat. These dropped by 40 percent, but this was also likely because of the new bridge. That particular drop did not even make a dent in the overall numbers.
The HKZM bridge
No matter how one analyses the numbers, it is clear that the new super-bridge provides a giant boon to the enclave. Mainland China is the number one source of visitors, while South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan show up as other big destinations. In China proper, the Guangdong province sent the largest share of tourist. Over one million visitors came from that single region to Macau.
Now, however, the city is struggling to cope with the influx of people, many of which do not only visit casinos. There are proposals for a tourist tax, but many in the city oppose it. What further complicates the setup is the fact that Macau is an island with little room to grow in a classical urban development sense. This could lead to many communal issues if the visitor numbers continue to rise.
The visitor numbers are great, but Macau’s GGR (gross gaming revenue) is still an issue. The economy of the enclave is suffering because of the drop in casino performance.
This is especially true for the Chinese VIP gaming market, now hesitant about big spending on account of the tensions with the US. Tourism might be on the rise, but its effectiveness if filling the enclave coffers is still minuscule compared to the casino industry.
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