The common flu probably kills more people every year than those that died from a single attack of SARS in the winter of 2002-2003. Try telling that to someone who lost a healthy friend or relative to the deadly pneumonia-like disease, however. There were few such cases back then – most victims were elderly – but a few were enough. Their deaths demonstrated the ability of the coronavirus to mutate and grow, sometimes severely. That resulted in Hong Kong, Macau and, eventually, much of Guangdong going into voluntary lockdown mode, causing widespread damage to the tourism industry. Cross-border travel dried up while MTR stations were emptied, airports deserted, hotel bookings cancelled, shops closed.
The new Hengqin Port was supposed to have opened on December 20, the same day as Macau’s 20th anniversary celebrations, but it appears that it will be ready only sometime in the first quarter. Macau’s new Secretary for Administration and Justice, Andre Chong, announced that work on the new facility was ongoing, and specific legislation still needs to be passed by the Legislative Assembly to govern how the Macau side of the port will be operated.
The good news is, however, that the Macau government is already planning to license tourist buses to go across the Lotus Bridge and pick up passengers there once the port is ready. It was not made clear whether this includes shuttle buses operated by the Macau casinos, or only coaches run by tourist agencies. The current situation at the Macau side of the Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge (HZMB) has two joint-service shuttles to take visitors to designated spots (at the two ferry terminals) for transfer to casino shuttles, while non-casino tour buses run freely.
The current single shuttle bus running between Hengqin and the existing Macau immigration facility at the Macau side of the Lotus Bridge is obviously not going to be good enough once the new Hengqin Port opens, as its new high-speed railway station will bring in a flood of new arrivals. The question is only whether the casinos will be able to run their own shuttles or will be forced to share a publicly run service. The new problem-plagued LRT system has not yet been extended out to the Hengqin Port, so buses are the only mode of transport for the foreseeable future.
Shenzhen’s main port area of Yantian was featured on GBI recently for what seemed to be an interesting plan: the city had leased some land to a developer to build a tourism project based on the processing and packaging of food that was being imported through the port. Now the masterplan has indeed been released, with local media gushing about it.
In true official style, the plan is based on a strategy that is full of jargon. It is a “full domain + full season” tourism development plan, which aims to build a “livable, industrial, tourist-innovative, modern, international coastal area.”
With tourism as the “core development focus,” this approach will “realize the organic integration of tourism and culture, sports, commerce and trade, industry, transportation, health, and other industries, and effectively link all enterprises to promote each other’s development.”
Visitors on package tours fell 35.7% in September, latest official data shows. This was despite overall visitation rising by 8%, indicating a big shift over to IVS travellers, who come on individual visas.
Most of the drop came from mainland visitors. Of the 448,000 who came in on package tours, 323,000 were from the mainland, but their number was down 37.6%, probably due to the protests in Hong Kong.
Macau’s outgoing Chief Executive, Fernando Chui, must have been surprised by the call (assuming it came) from Beijing last night, letting him know that China had offered Macau as an alternative venue to host the APEC meeting of economic ministers. It was obviously a quick decision, as Fox News was reporting on the offer within hours of the announcement by Chile that it could no longer host the November 16-17 event in Santiago.
One has to wonder whether Las Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson was equally quick off the mark, perhaps offering his properties on the Cotai Strip for accommodation and meeting space. He might not care to host the entire APEC gathering – because it likely would require turfing out gambling guests from hotel suites – but he would certainly appreciate the chance to host the presidents of the United States and China, who were supposed to sign some kind of trade deal on the sidelines of the APEC meeting.
It looks like we will never know, because sources have been quoted as saying that the US president is highly unlikely to do the meeting on Chinese soil.
Macau welcomed 2,764,924 visitors in September, an increase of 8.0% year-on-year. This time, however, visitors from Hong Kong saw the strongest YoY growth, up 27.2%, compared to mainland arrivals, which grew 5.7%.
It has been a long, long time since Hongkongers came to Macau in such large numbers. They are obviously still dwarfed by overall mainland arrivals, but still: what could have made 564,771 Hongkongers rush over to the GBA’s sole collection of baccarat tables last month?
There were 1,924,490 mainland arrivals in Macau last month, of which 49.0% came from Guangdong. Most of those were from the Greater Bay Area cities – 854,988 – with strongest growth from Zhuhai (269,327, up 50%) and Guangzhou (167,936, up 26.8%).
Air arrivals continued to grow strongly, up 16.3% to 294,677, while the ferries continued to lose share to the HZMB, with their traffic falling 45.0% to 416,713.
Is Brazil about to open up to casinos? The idea was raised in a more than casual way at a forum being held in Macau this week.
As reported by Macau Daily Times, Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, Brazil’s Minister of Tourism, asked for feedback at the Global Tourism Economy Forum on his country’s plans to invite investors to open resorts and theme parks. In response, MGM China’s chairperson, Pansy Ho, said that from a gaming operator’s perspective, Brazil has all the basic requirements to open an integrated resort industry.
Ho, who is one of the chief organizers of the conference, made the comments during a press conference on Tuesday. According to Ho, Brazil should be able to develop similar types of integrated resorts to those built in Macau.
“I’m quite sure there will be some of the existing gaming operators that would be clearly interested [in investing],” she said.
That is possibly the understatement of the year. Although a staunchly Catholic country like, er, the Philippines, Brazil would be lucrative for Macau’s casinos, who are currently having to wait around for what seems like forever while Japan figures out what it wants them to do.
Read more details on MDT.
Macau and Zhuhai are to jointly establish a new Greater Bay Area tourism-focused institute, based in Zhuhai.
According to a report by Xinhua, the new institute will be jointly managed by Macau’s Institute of Tourism (known by its Portuguese acronym, IFT), the Zhuhai Cultural Broadcasting and Sports Bureau, and the Zhuguang Group, a major state-owned enterprise with a presence in both cities. The three parties signed a cooperative framework agreement yesterday.Continue reading Macau, Zhuhai to set up GBA tourism institute
Shenzhen’s eastern port of Yantian is undergoing a major upgrade in the coming few years that will see a new industrial district spring up around it. It will include logistics and industrial parks showcasing innovative ideas, with some combining trade and tourism.
Much like the old shipping neighborhoods in western cities that turned themselves into food and tourism attractions, such as Chelsea Market in New York, the new development plan for Yantian envisages building facilities that can be both practical for industrial use and attract visitors who will splash out for an authentic experience.Continue reading Yantian Port plans ‘Ice and Snow’ project
This past National Day Golden Week reaffirmed Guangzhou’s Panyu district as the province’s premier tourist zone. From October 1-7, the district, home to the Chimelong Group’s trio of world-class theme parks, received 3.502 million visitors, up 12.2% YoY. They generated tourism revenue of RMB 1.768 billion. up 13.8% YoY.
Just prior to the start of the holidays, Panyu got a welcome boost from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which released a list of 71 National Tourism Demonstration Zones. Panyu was one of only two in the province on the list.Continue reading Panyu sees boom in visitors