Macau government authorities and local business stakeholders are taking measures to diversify the Chinese region’s economy away from its reliance on gaming. To publicize these efforts, a delegation representing Macau is travelling around Europe, communicating that Macau is an attractive destination for both business and leisure visitors.
On arrival in Portugal, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng was welcomed at Lisbon International Airport by local officials. Joining Ho are a number of prominent figures in the Macau gaming industry, including the Ho siblings Pansy, Daisy, and Lawrence, who respectively lead or possess significant stakes in MGM China, SJM Resorts, and Melco Resorts. The delegation also includes Dr. Wilfred Wong, President of Sands China, Linda Chen, Vice Chair and Executive Director of Wynn Macau, and Philip Cheng Yee Sing, Director of Galaxy Entertainment.
Macau is making a shift away from its high-roller culture, which was previously heavily promoted by the VIP junket scheme. This scheme, which entailed offering lavish services and accommodations to wealthy mainland Chinese travellers in exchange for their gaming pledges, has been disbanded by China’s President Xi Jinping, who believed the scheme was being used to illegally transport funds into Macau.
In response to this, Macau’s six gaming operators were instructed by the government to invest $13.5 billion into non-gaming projects, in order to renew their operating licenses until 2033. Ho’s delegation is thus touring Europe to market Macau’s tourism and business capabilities, as well as the recently opened Studio City water park, to attract more international guests.
Statistics show that only 3.1 million of the 39.4 million tourists who visited Macau in 2019 were from outside of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Consequently, Chief Executive Ho and the casino leaders are appealing to relatively underdeveloped markets such as Portugal, Luxembourg, and Belgium.