The New Game in Town
When tourism and gaming wasn't enough, Macau shifted course toward something new.
While the special administrative region of Macau may lack in size at only 29.7 kilometers squared, its lavish accommodations, gaming floors, entertainment and shopping centers are anything but modest. Home to 25 UNESCO world heritage sites and one of the world’s most modern skylines, the city’s unique Portuguese history blends Eastern and Western cultural, technological and architectural influences, which attracted upwards of 30 million visitors last year alone. About 60% of Macau’s economy comes from the casino industry, and another 11% on sectors like shopping, hotels and restaurants. Undaunted by last year’s economic downturn, when the city’s economy shrank 20%, Macau’s government decided to diversify its economy from one focused solely on gaming to include MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) in its first five-year development plan, unveiled in September.
Macau already has the makings of an ideal MICE destination: Thanks to a strategic location, prime venues and diversity of entertainment offerings already in place, Macau stands apart from the other key MICE destinations in the region. The existence of a strong gaming sector puts Macau in league with Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but on a much grander scale. In fact, despite the economic downturn, the city made $44.2 billion in comparison to a $6.4 billion to Las Vegas last year. With its already rich cultural background and tourism resources, the city possesses a unique advantage for the further development of the MICE sector—including being home to Asia’s largest fully integrated convention and exhibition center.
The zenith of event spaces in Macau can be found at the Sands Resorts. With seven hotels including The Venetian Macao and The Parisian Macao, Sands Resorts boasts a total of 13,000 rooms and 150,000 meeting and exhibition spaces. The Venetian Macao, the world’s largest casino, has led the way in aligning its focus with that of the city’s government. As of December 2016, over 8 million attendees have enjoyed Sands Resorts’ exemplary accommodations. Exhibitors and event-goers alike can take advantage of unparalleled luxury, with over 150 restaurants and world class shopping at 850 duty-free shops. Live shows, including award-winning Broadway musicals, concerts, and sporting events, bring sparkle and excitement to downtime.
Beyond its brick and mortar advantages, the city has created a Convention and Exhibition Stimulation Program. This provides incentives and support to organizers who hold events in Macau, with a goal of creating a competitive edge for Macau’s convention and exhibition industry. It offers subsidies including a 25% reduction of the actual amount paid for exhibition venues for qualified exhibitions, and 10% off of accommodation costs incurred at local hotels with a maximum of five nights’ accommodation granted for qualified meetings, conventions and exhibitions. In addition to the financial incentives the city offers, Sands Resorts has offerings of its own, including 5% off of exhibitors’ total bill, complimentary room upgrades, and 50% off of ferry and entertainment tickets.
The Cotai Expo already hosts some of the region’s biggest trade shows from key industries, including automotive, hospitality, jewelry, manufacturing and telecommunications. Sands Resorts ensures successful events by combining state-of-the-art facilities, rich entertainment and cultural offerings, and professionals to assist with MICE and exhibition efforts. With all that Macau has to offer, the future is looking very bright indeed for this exciting region on the Pearl River.