Macau’s effort to reinvent itself by premiering more family-friendly attractions is reportedly set to pay off next year as the former Portuguese enclave is expected to see a huge surge in tourists and mass-market players coming from beyond China.
According to a report from the Bloomberg news service citing official figures from the Macau Statistics And Census Service, the number of tourists from South Korea, Japan and the United States jumped in November and helped to offset a decline in those arriving from mainland China, which made up two-thirds of the city’s 2.6 million monthly visitors.
Bloomberg reported that the number of tourists staying at least one night in Macau rose by 10% last month and accounted for 53% of total arrivals while the quantity of same-day visitors fell by 9.7%. It explained that overnighters are also staying longer at an average of 2.1 days and will help to push gambling revenues up by 7% in 2017 following three consecutive years of declines.
“There are definitely more reasons to come to Macau now versus two years ago and that is the key reason why overnight visitation is growing faster than total visitation,” analyst Richard Huang from Nomura Holdings Incorporated told Bloomberg.
Huang reportedly told Bloomberg that a rise in the number of casinos in Macau will moreover “continue [to] drive growth in the mass-gaming segment”.
Wynn Resorts Limited opened its $4.1 billion Wynn Palace Cotai in August while fellow American casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corporation premiered the $2.5 billion The Parisian Macao featuring a half-sized replica of the Eiffel Tower in September. Bloomberg reported that these tourist-friendly resorts have helped Macau to become less reliant on high-stakes gamblers, especially after VIP players were scared off following a Beijing crackdown on corruption and illegal outflows. These attacks intensified in October when Chinese authorities detained Crown Resorts Limited staff in an effort to further deter its citizens from gambling overseas while the city is simultaneously fending off regional competitors in South Korea and the Philippines.
“Without a doubt over past several months, Macau has felt busier than it has in a couple years,” analyst Grant Govertsen from Union Gaming Group told Bloomberg.
However, Bloomberg reported that Macau still has a long way to go as non-gaming activities currently account for only about 6% of total revenues compared with approximately 62% in Las Vegas.
“Does the fact that Macau now has an Eiffel Tower bringing extra people to the market [help]; yes, but their main activity here will still be gaming,” Govertsen told Bloomberg.
Bloomberg reported that Macau officials could publish aggregated gross gaming revenues for December as early as January 1 with analysts expecting full-year receipts to have decreased by about 3.5% to around $28 billion, which would follow a drop of 34% last year and 2.6% in 2014.
Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, who controls Melco International Development Limited, revealed last week that his firm is set to purchase more of stake in its Melco Crown Entertainment Limited joint venture with Australian operator Crown Resorts Limited. This partnership runs the City Of Dreams Macau casino resort along with the City Of Dreams Manila development and the entrepreneur reportedly declared that the Macau gaming industry is in slow recovery.
“We are in a recovery,” Ho told Bloomberg. “That recovery is not going to be the same as the recovery during the global financial crisis. This time around it’s different. It’s going to be more of a natural recovery.”