[photopress:hoteld_Macau_shopping_mall.jpg,full,alignright]Macau seems to be playing with fire. The incident where the riot police were called in to calm down 120 angry Chinese tourists on a wind-swept beach who had protested angrily to tour guides over an itinerary too packed with shopping could lead to a serious problem. For Macau.
Two dozen police with batons and riot shields faced off with the tourists from China’s Hubei province for nearly five hours Tuesday night who were protesting that tour guides had taken them to too many shops and pressured them into buying things.
The argument erupted after the tour guides took the group to the beach, and the tourists, complaining of cold, could not reboard their four locked coaches.
Police arrived on the scene and called for reinforcements, and the stand-off ended when the tourists were persuaded to go to a hotel.
A small incident.
But what if it should inspire the Chinese government to look into whether it is a good thing to allow Chinese people to charge into Macau mainly for the benefit of overseas casino owners. This is the only place in gambling-mad China where casinos are legal, and the annual visitor arrivals have doubled since 2003, when the Chinese government began to loosen restrictions on individual travel.
Some 22 million people visited the former Portuguese-run enclave last year.
U.S. gaming firms including Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have rushed in to set up giant casinos, with Las Vegas-style shopping arcades and entertainment complexes attached. And, the intent, is to take a large amount of money from the tourists from China.
Now the Macao tourism bureau will report the dispute between mainland tourists and Macao tour guides and police to the National Tourism Administration. A delegation led by vice director of Macao’s tourism bureau will submit the investigation report during a meeting with central officials in Beijing.
What if the Chinese authorities think that enough is enough and reintroduce border restrictions. It would cut down on totally profitless gambling — profitless as far as China is concerned — and leave a lot of American and Australian entrepreneurs crying in their soup.