Pansy Ho says growing foreign travel a threat to Macau

    Pansy Ho, daughter of casino mogul Stanley Ho, said the two biggest threats to Macau’s continued growth are a slowdown in China’s economy and competition from other destinations.
    Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg television, Ho said Macau needs to continue to push to diversify its tourism offering to ensure it remains competitive.
    As Chinese tourists travel more frequently and farther afield, the city could gradually lose its appeal, said Ho, who is co-chair of MGM China. “We’re already beginning to see that the customers coming through our doors are more demanding, they now know how to differentiate.”
    Mainland Chinese have been the biggest drivers of growth in the world’s biggest gambling hub, where gross gambling revenue hit a record $45.2 billion in 2013, an increase of 18.6 percent on the previous year.
    However, that momentum has slowed in recent months and shares in major casino operators have fallen sharply amid concerns about the impact of the slowdown in the Chinese economy on VIP spending and scandals surrounding junket operators.
    In June, GGR fell for the first time in five years, though most analysts expect a pick up going into the third quarter and attribute most of the drop in the month to the distraction of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
    That said, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Billy Ng still sees July as being difficult, predicting a drop of July GGR of as much as 11 percent from a year earlier.
    The Macau government has said it’s seeking to diversify its economy to reduce its reliance on casino revenue.