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Looking to Hengqin

Guilherme Rego

The first three days of the Chinese New Year ended with a daily average of 167,000 visitors. If this continues, we may be looking at one of the best golden weeks ever when this editorial is published, rivalling pre-pandemic results. The preparation for this festive season is the result of a great effort on the part of public and private entities, which have also taken the opportunity to promote old parts of the city, which are usually outside the tourist hotspots.

In short, 2024 looks set to be the year of the recovery of tourism and also of gambling revenues. With the importance of revenue diversification in the new era, Macau is also becoming a more interesting city to live in and visit.

The problem are the prices. According to the latest statistics, tourism in Macau has never been more expensive. And the limited supply of low-cost accommodation makes it practically impossible for those with less financial flexibility to stay. The Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, had already warned of this trend last year, calling for investment in 3- or 2-star hotels to balance out the supply. However, industry representatives say that there is no incentive to develop low-cost accommodation, because integrated resorts will always dictate the price range.

So, in the middle of the New Year, Ho Iat Seng points to Hengqin, and sees it as the solution for the city to be open to all. Industry representatives immediately asked the Chief Executive to be cautious, fearing a drop in local growth if the tourist flow began to be diverted on purpose. But that’s Hengqin: what can’t be developed in Macau will end up being done in the Co-operation Zone.

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Generalist media, focusing on the relationship between Portuguese-speaking countries and China.

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