Of all the victims of a downturn in Chinese tourism, Macao stands to lose the most.
About 58% of all inbound travelers come from mainland China, where gambling is outlawed. Although the number of mainland tourists to Macao increased by 10.6% in August, it is a far cry from the 29.9% growth registered in July and the even faster rate of 36.6 % recorded in June.
The slowdown is already affecting casino revenue, which rose more than 50% in the first six months of this year but was flat in the first half of last month, according to Standard & Poor’s.
Since Stanley Ho’s monopoly on the gaming market was ended in 2002, Macao, which has 30 casinos and has attracted heavy investments from Las Vegas casino operators, is now the world’s biggest gaming market.
Most analysts forecast that the total September figure, which will be released later this month, will fall. If it does, it will be the first monthly drop in casino revenue since November 2005.
The decline is being anticipated after Beijing announced a series of measures to tame explosive growth in the Macao gaming market this year. The Chinese government has in the past few months repeatedly tightened the frequency and ease with which mainland gamblers can travel to Macao.
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Source: The Financial Times
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