June 18, 2024 3 min read


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Macau Diversifies Away from Gambling with New Gourmet Twist

Macau was designated a “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO in 2017 and plans to capitalize on this accolade by organizing various public events that highlight its rich culinary culture

In order to expand its economy, Macau has made a strategic decision that involves its well-known culinary status as a way of attracting tourists other than the usual casino visitors. 

Macau to Exploit UNESCO Gastronomy Status

Macau was named a “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO in 2017 and it intends to leverage this recognition by by hosting different public events that showcase its abundant food culture ranging from street vendors all the way up to high-end dining establishments, reported the South China Morning Post.

The director of the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, said that unique culinary experiences could be used to draw more people into the city as tourists. She also added that they could work together with community associations and NGOs to hold interesting events in smaller neighborhoods which would encourage visitors to have a deeper understanding of local cultures.

This focus on food represents an attempt by Macau not only to diversify beyond gambling but also away from gambling revenue which accounts for most taxes collected within the gaming capital of Asia. 

2022 when casino concessions were renewed for another 10 years saw an order demanding each one of the six licensed operators spend no less than MOP100 billion ($12.47 billion) over the next 10 years in non-gaming elements. These investments are supposed to create new spaces for conventions, concerts, shows and large sporting events as well as promote health and community tourism among others.

UNESCO Official Emphasizes Role of Gastronomy in City Competitiveness

Qin Changwei who serves as Secretary General for the Chinese National Commission under UNESCO while speaking during the International Gastronomy Forum indicated that creative gastronomic industries ought not to be overlooked because they help improve the culture and creative sectors so crucial to enhancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of cities. 

Qin also noted that the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, a key initiative aimed at fostering sustainable urban development through innovation and creativity, includes 18 Chinese cities, with Macau among them.

The International Cities of Gastronomy Fest Macau, which commenced on June 14 and runs until June 23, is part of these broader efforts. The event includes the International Gastronomy Forum, which returned this year after a hiatus due to the pandemic. This festival, an annual event held from 2016 to 2019, showcases the city’s culinary talents and innovations.

Fernandes observed shifts in consumer behavior in the post-pandemic era, including a decline in group travel tours and a younger demographic of visitors. This younger audience, she noted, tends to seek personalized and unique experiences, showing a greater willingness to explore local and non-tourist areas of Macau.

As Macau hopes to become recognized as a world gastronomic capital through efforts geared towards reinforcing its culinary heritage, Fernandes believes that publicizing food culture not only improves tourism attractiveness but also underlines Macau’s metropolis status globally. 


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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