Gurus in the city believe the MSAR needs detailed planning and improved infrastructure in order to diversify its economy away from its core gaming industry.
On a talk show produced by Singaporean news channel Channel NewsAsia, locally-based economist Albano Martins pointed out that infrastructure is one of the key obstacles preventing the city from diversifying.
“If we want to do that, we need to invest a lot on infrastructure,” said Mr. Martins on the show. “We have had a huge amount of growth in our GDP (gross domestic product), but the city itself hasn’t grown at all…the infrastructure is almost the same.”
Criticising that the city’s five-year plan lacks targets – such as GDP growth, inflation rates or quantity of housing to be provided – the economist suggested that the MSAR Government needs to be clever in order to lead the city towards economic diversification.
“The government still has a lot to improve in order to be capable of being the leader of all these diversifications. Without this leadership, it will be very complicated for us to go ahead,” Mr. Martins said.
A similar perspective was shared by Glenn McCartney, Associate Professor in International Integrated Resort Management at the University of Macau (UM).
The academic noted on the show that all tourist destinations in the world have well-planned development, perceiving that the MSAR Government’s lack of forecasting is one of the major issues the city is facing, and one it will continue to.
The scholar also called for more collaboration between the private and public sectors in order to achieve the goal of diversification. “The collaboration of Macau’s private and public sector was very minor in the past years,” he remarked.
Managing Director at Union Gaming Securities Asia, Grant Govertsen meanwhile believes that diversification should be developed within the resort industry.
“If you look at Vegas, the revenue story, it will take more than decades for Macau to have a majority of revenue from non-gaming. But we’re moving in the right direction,” he opined.
Nevertheless, legislator José Pereira Coutinho does not believe it is necessary for the territory to diversify in order to sustain its economic development.
“I don’t see there’s a real need to implement diversification in Macau. Everything has been done [by China] to support the Macau gaming industry and Macau people, because we have the one country two systems,” he said.
Even though Japan passed its own gaming legislation last December and is expected to see its first casino-resort open for operation after 2021, the MSAR market is not likely to be affected significantly.
“Yes, Japan is going to be fascinating as we see – Macau may lose a bit in revenue as a result, but I think ultimately you’ll never see Macau duplicated,” said Mr. Govertsen, who is also a gaming analyst.
He believes there will always be a demand for the MSAR given its unique connection to Mainland China compared to other gaming markets out there.
José Pereira Coutinho echoed this point of view.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of comparisons between Macau and Las Vegas. But they’re two totally different markets,” the local legislator said. “The people who come over to Macau, they come just for gaming… This is the structure of Macau’s business. I don’t think Macau could be challenged by anyone. Not even Japan.”