Macau received 31.5 million visitors in total last year, an increase of 7.5 percent over the year of 2013, according to the Macau Government Tourist Office. Tourists from mainland China still remain the strongest source, with a total of 21 million mainlanders visiting Macau in 2014–a 14.1 percent jump from the previous year. This contrasts with a nine percent drop in Macau’s gambling revenue this year and a 2.6 percent drop last year as a result of China’s intensified crackdown on gambling-related graft since the middle of 2013.
Best-known as the ‘heaven for gambling’ in Asia, Macau has gained more confidence in its non-gambling related facilities and tourist attractions through this visitor growth. According to Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Tourist Office, the trend reflects the fact that tourists do not necessarily come to Macau to gamble but also to enjoy food, shopping and other tourist activities.
South China Morning Post reports:
Last year, international visitor numbers in Macau fell 1.1 per cent. Tourist spending on gambling stayed the same in the first nine months of last year, Fernandes said, but she expected “there could be a drop in the fourth quarter”.
There was, however, an increase of about 5 per cent in non-gambling expenditure, including spending on retail and dining.
As part of the non-gambling attractions, four new walking routes with heritage themes have been designed and new lighting shows will be held in various neighbourhoods to attract tourists away from the city centre.
As well, several thousand more hotel rooms will be available this year with more to follow.
Compared to Macau, Hong Kong was outperformed in both economic growth and tourism mainly due to its loss of prospective economic advantages and unpleasant relations with the mainland society in past years. According to a report from the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, Macau came in as the best in economic performance among 300 major cities worldwide in the year of 2014 whilst Hong Kong only ranked the 242nd. In tourism, Hong Kong was also predicted to face a mere four percent visitor annual growth rate before 2020, and more and more mainlanders will choose to travel to Japan, France, South Korea and Britain over Hong Kong.
By Shirley Zhang
[Image via Want China Times]