Macau looks to expand city’s tourism offering

By William Brown Updated
Macau casino licence renewal process made clearer

Macau is looking at broadening its horizons beyond gambling, to become a more well-rounded tourism destination.

Calvin Ayre reports the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the city’s gambling industry and serves as the perfect example of why diversification is needed.

Macau’s Master Plan for urban development has gone through its initial design phase.

The latest draft was released last week, with casinos still a focal point.

The plan keeps casinos where they are now in Cotai and New Outer Harbour Area, while stablishing new urban tourism zones that would not be open to casinos or other gambling activity.

Macau officials point to the northern region of Taipa, which could become an urban waterfront masterpiece designated to attract tourism and businesses.

A new tourism and leisure route specialising in different forms of entertainment could also be integrated and located around Nam Van and Barra urban areas.

The area closest to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge could become the go-to spot for conferences and exhibitions, capitalising on the area’s proximity to the bridge and its link to the three significant hubs.

The Master Plan is just a concept, but one that has a lot of potential to see Macau morph into something completely different.

The public now has a chance to weigh in on what it thinks of the project, and can offer input until November 2.

After that, the project and the input will be reviewed and it will most likely be a year before anything else materialises.

In presenting the project, director of Land, Public and Works Transport Bureau Chan Pou Ha explained the department will have 60 days of public consultation, which will follow a period of 180 days for the company responsible for the consultation to elaborate on their preliminary report.

This report will be submitted to the Urban Planning Council, which will have to analyse it and provide comments.

Macau operators forecast to post $1b quarterly loss

Macau casino operators are expected to post a loss of more than $1 billion collectively in their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the quarter ending June 30, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Each of the six operators will likely have negative quarterly EBITDA when they start reporting their earnings, according to the survey of eight brokerages.

SJM Holdings and MGM China Holdings are expected to lead the tally of year-on-year declines.

Macau’s casino industry has seen gaming revenues plunge by more than 90 per cent for three straight months starting April, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closure of borders.

Recovery prospects in the region have been brightened since neighbouring Chinese province Guangdong lifted quarantine requirements for travellers returning from Macau in early July.

China has also resumed issuing its individual visas.

Sanford C Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky said: “The initial enthusiasm around border easing is a sign of some pent up demand, but without IVS restart, V-shape recovery is not expected.”

Patrons slowly returning to Macau’s casinos

Macau has been receiving about 2000 tourists a day following the relaxation of its quarantine arrangements for travel to Macau’s neighbouring Chinese mainland province Guangdong, compared to “a few hundred” in the weeks prior, a senior Macau official said on Friday.

Director of Macau Government Tourism Office Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes described the improved daily tally as still “low” relative to the numbers before the pandemic.

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