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Home >  OPINIONCrackdown sees Macau scrambling for safer bets
Crackdown sees Macau scrambling for safer bets
A swathe of new openings in Cotai brings fresh challenges for venues, but big ideas for event planners, writes Martin Donovan

8 Apr 2015

Headlines about Macau have been dominated recently by plunges in gaming revenue (albeit on the back of threefold growth) and the effect of the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption and lavish spending by officials. Even the widely accepted ban on smoking indoors has seen much hand wringing – not from nicotine addicts, but those shuddering at the prospect of a diminished bottom line.

What’s happening in Macau in terms of fiscal indicators is casting a pall of gloom over profit hunters in Las Vegas and Wall Street. Explaining that China wants Macau to diversify from gaming and into family, leisure and business tourism doesn’t wash when you hold exchange-traded funds packed with casino stocks.

Just as the casino monopoly enjoyed for so long by Macau tycoon Stanley Ho made way for a more freewheeling – but regulated – market in 2001, change is in the air for those operators who have since swept into the enclave.

Venue openings along the Cotai Strip will have family tour operators and the purveyors of comic book and movie memorabilia eager to savour the action. Melco’s City of Dreams will feature a Batman-themed experience while Galaxy Macao is already boasting that it will have world-record beating structures in terms of the longest “skytop aquatic adventure ride” and largest “skytop wavepool”. The Galaxy complex will also see the world’s biggest JW Marriott open on May 27 with more than a thousand rooms alongwith an all-suite Ritz-Carlton.

With the growing band of creative event planners serving Macau, it won’t be long till these leisurely fixtures are given an incentive or post-meeting activity spin.

Nor surprisingly, Sands China is in the thick of the action with the 3,000 guest-room and suite The Parisien Macao is taking shape complete with a replica of the Eiffel Tower. St Regis will also open on the Cotai Strip. Not to be outdone, Melco’s Studio City resort comes with a Ferris-type wheel shaped to show the figure eight. 

Each of these new resort openings have been instructed to have a lower number of gaming tables, but perhaps no fewer closed-circuit cameras, if President Xi’s tough line on pursuing any officials who venture into casinos is anything to go by.

The growth of the meetings, incentive, conference and events industry has been enshrined in China’s most recent five-year plan. If all goes well in Macau, it may also be a priority in Beijing’s next plan – and turn out to be a safer bet than more high-rollers travelling down from the motherland.

Martin Donovan is the Editor of MIX

Tags :
Macau   Martin Donovan  

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