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Going beyond casinos

MACAU is trying to develop new ways to bring tourists to the city, by diversifying its base from gaming and casinos.

“The focus is to do non-gaming (activities). We feel that going forward, we don’t want to be just relying on one part of the tourism mix,” said Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, said during a press conference. New contracts between the government and the gaming operators means that “They’re investing a lot in new non-gaming facilities, as well as events.”

Industries the city will be focusing on include health and wellness, technology, wealth and finance, and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions).

Compared to other countries, Macau opened up rather late after the COVID-19 pandemic cooled down. The city and Special Administrative Region only fully opened their doors in January this year, said Ms. De Senna Fernandes. They saw an uptick of tourist arrivals since June of this year, with 120,000 foreign visitors (from outside Mainland China and Hong Kong) visiting every month.

“We’re aiming at probably 25 million (tourists) by the end of this year,” she said, noting that in 2019, before the world shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, their tallies numbered to more than 29 million tourists. “The good news is that people are staying longer. The profile of visitors is younger, and the other thing is that they’re spending more.”

Meanwhile, City of Dreams Manila’s parent, Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited, announced the opening of a sales office in its Manila property. According to Kevin Benning, Senior Vice-President and Property General Manager of Studio City in Macau, this was to facilitate easier booking for MICE-related business, as well as to allow Filipino visitors to plan trips across Macau. “This opens up a whole new segment,” he said. “We’ll be able to coordinate all of that for you, from any of our Melco-based properties.” — Joseph L. Garcia

Neil Banzuelo

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