The COVID-19 lockdown has served as a wake-up call for Macau to begin considering alternative sources of revenue other than gambling for its economy. A family-friendly approach to tourism is the plan local authorities are pushing ahead with.
Macau Cuts Dependence on Gambling, Focuses on Tourism
Macau has been trying to break away from its dependence on gambling, looking for a better, and well-rounded tourist experience. Even with COVID-19 hitting and locking down the entire administrative region, Macau is still planning to diversify its revenue away from gambling.
Not least, the coronavirus lockdown, lasting over six months now, has served as another wake-up call why the casino industry cannot be the staple economic product for the region. Even though travel restrictions still make it difficult for Macau to bring visitors to the city, in whatever capacity, officials are betting on a more family-friendly approach to ramp up visitations.
The special administrative region is already negotiating with Hong Kong and border provinces with China to create a special traveling bubble and ease up traveling restrictions in that area. In fact, China has already eased up some of the traveling restrictions.
Meanwhile Macau has been pushing with its urban development in a bid to repurpose the city and expand into other economic segment, once again geared towards visitors, but different than casino.
Macau’s Master Plan Is Open for Public Debate by November 2
The new expansion will come under a Master Plan for the city’s urban growth which is already in its initial phases. A draft was released at the end of the work week by the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT), outlining a positive outlook on tourism,
According to DSSOPT director Chan Pou Ha Macau is yet to realize its full potential when it comes to the tourism sector. As per the latest draft, casinos will remain intact and their licenses most likely renewed, notwithstanding some tit-for-tat between the United States and China.
Currently, most of the casinos operate in Cotai and the New Outer Harbour Area, sort of the Las Vegas Strip in Macau. However, for any new urban expansion, the government would prohibit all gambling operations in any new urban expansion areas.
These areas will be designated as urban tourism zones. Officials will mostly focus on the area that is the northern region of Taipa which will in turn focus on various water attractions. A special leisure and entertainment route would be built in Nam Van and Barra in the designated Urban Area B.
Focusing on Quick Connections between the Region’s Hubs
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge’s area may become a place for conferences and exhibitions thanks to the quick connection with Hong Kong and China. The current Master Plan is just a concept and public opinions are welcome by November 2.
Once the call for public opinions is over, authorities will assess opinions and publish a new draft. The DSSOPT had this to specify: “60 days of public consultation, which will follow a period of 180 days for the company responsible for the consultation to elaborate their preliminary report. Then this report will be submitted to the Urban Planning Council which will have to analyze it and also provide comments. In the final stage, the consultant will have 90 days more to finalize the report with input from CPU, presenting a final version that will then be delivered to the Chief Executive.”
Macau is betting big on tourism and even though traveling will be a challenge, the government believes family-friendly tourism can drive huge economic gains for the region.