Non-gaming to take backseat a while longer: Scholar

While Macau has been focusing on boosting its non-gaming offerings, a scholar notes the future of Macau’s economy will still be based on gaming earnings for years to come. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the British Business Association of Macau’s business luncheon yesterday, quoted by Macau Daily Times, Philip Xie, dean of the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Macau University of Science and Technology argued that it would still take some time for the territory to develop a sustainable model that would attract non-gaming tourists.

“This is a dilemma for Macau because when you break down the revenues, probably 80-90 percent of it comes from gaming. […] This is a very different mode compared to Las Vegas,” Xie told the media.

The scholar suggested that the region region should make use of the gaming industry as a base to further develop a wider range of offerings including a convention industry, art and culture, and culinary tourism.

“But the basis is still gaming. There’s no doubt about it,” he stressed.

Xie’s latest comments reflect those made by Glenn McCartney, an associate professor of gaming and hospitality management at the University of Macau.

“There is no doubt that non-gaming is attracting the Chinese globally, but ​it does not play a significant role in Macau’s case,” said McCartney in an interview with AGB earlier this year.

“I have been following the market for 13 years now and there hasn’t been anything that is non-gaming in orientation that people will specifically come to see or witness,” commented Sudhir Kale, CEO of Game Plan Consultants, previously a consultant to Sands China.

To combat the problem, McCartney and Kale say a change is needed in how operators approach non-gaming.

“Non-gaming was never given any particular emphasis because gaming revenues are [too] substantial,” said McCartney. “Non gaming in many aspects is looked upon as a support pillar and a driver for gaming revenue and particularly for premium mass and VIP junket,” he explains.

“Companies are largely providing non-gaming amenities in an effort to appease the government,” said Kale.

“…no one in their right mind believes in the foreseeable future, that we are going to have a balance between non-gaming and gaming similar to that of Vegas.”

Xie however believes that the industry is moving towards providing diversified offerings that suit clients with different lifestyles.

“If you take a look at Wynn Palace, Morpheus, MGM Grand Cotai: they are all kind of positioned in different ways. […] They have different products, I think that’s the future,” he noted.

“Eventually tourists will come here and split their time to do both gaming and leisure activities. I think it’s happening right now but slowly.”

Earlier this year, the MGTO had announced four major goals for 2017 that included developing a diversity of tourism products, enhancing industry service quality, enhancing destination promotion and strengthening multilateral co-operation mechanism.