Category Archives: Tourism

Macau visitors up 8% – thanks to HK

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.

Brazil seeks Macau’s ‘advice’ on resorts

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, Zhuhai to set up GBA tourism institute

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.

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Yantian Port plans ‘Ice and Snow’ project

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

Panyu sees boom in visitors

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.

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Nansha Cruise Terminal set to open

The Greater Bay Area collectively has grand ambitions for its cruise industry, with at least three major terminals serving large-scale ocean-going liners, and others being built. The biggest of them all is about to open in Guangzhou’s Nansha. 

The Nansha Cruise Terminal, with an immigration area of more than 3,000 sqm, is five times bigger than the current Nansha cruise port. It will open next month and is expected to become a major node in regional cruise itineraries. 

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Macau revenues don’t match visitor growth

As we reported yesterday, Macau had a great Golden Week, with 13% more visitors coming in than last year. However, revenues at the casinos, which are still heavily weighted toward VIPs, were down, according to analysts quoted by GGRAsia.

Citing “channel checks” – a widely adopted euphemism for unofficial data culled from unnamed sources – these analysts speculated that gross gaming revenues for the week were down as much as 12% YoY.

However, there was a bright spot, these analysts reckon: the weighting toward low-margin VIP play is being reduced, as mass-market revenues grew strongly, by between 8% and 10%. In other words, more headcounts means more gamblers who don’t have the clout (or the sense) to ask for rebates and commissions, thereby ensuring the casinos healthier margins.

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Tourists everywhere … except Hong Kong

The Greater Bay Area is getting back to normal gradually this week, after a long holiday to celebrate National Day. But already, official data shows it was a good time for tourism everywhere except Hong Kong. Visitors to the province were up 9.1% YoY to – get this – 55.077 million! Revenues were up even more, 13.3%, to RMB 46.49 billion.

Not bad for a province with a population of just under 80 million. And far better than the rest of the country, according to official data.

Macau had a good run, too. For the first six days, headcounts were up 13.0% YoY. Gross gaming revenues for the casino industry have not yet been released. 

What drove this surge? “Red” tourism, of course. Guangdong’s top 100 scenic spots, as defined by the government, receiving 11.322 million tourists, an increase of just 3.1%. But this year the government has been heavily promoting the ancient Shudao area, which received 2.996 million tourists, up 6.4%; and 13 so-called “red” tourism scenic spots – historical sites linked to the history of the Party – received 1.597 million tourists, up 13.7%.

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Macau regulator tightens data screws

Macau’s gaming regulator, the DICJ, has decided to tighten up the way the casinos share their data with third parties. Henceforth, the casinos need to apply to the DICJ every time they want to transfer any of their operational data, including the personal data of their customers, to a third party, either inside or outside Macau.

How this is going to work will be interesting to see. The DICJ has apparently made a point of letting everyone know they are not banning the transfer of data, just requiring the casinos to get permission to do it. It is not clear what the DICJ might be worried about, either, as the regulation is broad enough to cover every kind of data related to a casino’s operations.

It is also interesting to see the DICJ specify that this includes third parties inside or outside Macau. The city has theoretically strict data-privacy laws that say no personal data can be transferred outside of Macau, and all data must be kept on servers physically within Macau. 

Read more on GGRAsia.

HK stares at tourism abyss as funds keep flowing

Hong Kong remains China’s key gateway for foreign investment despite the protests, according to the latest data from Beijing. As SCMP reports, China received US$62.9 billion in foreign direct investment via Hong Kong in the first eight months of this year, accounting for 70 per cent of total inflows. The rise was even sharper once the monthly number for August was calculated: US$7.53 billion, up 29.2% from the same month last year.

It’s hard to blame or credit these flows on anything Hong Kong is doing, as Investment decisions into China are often months, if not years, in the planning. Still, the numbers might bring some comfort at a time when the tourism pillar of the economy is crumbling. 

According to this SCMP report, Causeway Bay is struggling, with one in ten shops standing empty and thousands of staff facing job losses. We think a very painful withdrawal experience lies ahead as the city is forced off the drug that it has been hooked on since 2003. Mainland tourists have other options, including Macau, and once mainland tariffs on imported goods start being completely repealed, they will likely have little reason to come back – even if the protests somehow start to subside.

Across the city, the hotel industry is reeling. But landlords appear to be doing what they do best: forcing management companies to let go of staff while they figure out the best way to reconvert the buildings into office space. And they are in the meantime looking to move their real-estate projects as fast as possible before prices start to fall off a cliff as the government strong-arms them into offering below-market discounts.

Hong Kong needs a big, new vision for its future.