WHILE casinos are wooing visitors and bringing in tourist dollars, Macau Tourism Board does not want the city to be only known as a destination for gambling.
The Macau government is hoping to see a more diversified group of tourists to the special administrative region, rather than just hardcore gamblers.
We have a big gaming industry. But Macau has more to offer to its visitors, said Macau Government Tourist Office director Joao Manuel Costa Antunes.
We want to promote Macau as a MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition) centre in Asia.
Making the former Portuguese colony a MICE centre will help increase the number of days visitors stay in Macau, which in turn will create demand for more hotel rooms and lift tourist consumption.
We target at least a visitor average length of stay of two nights, said Joao.
He said the government intended to develop Macau as a city resort that had not only casinos, but also other forms of entertainment such as live shows, as well as facilitating trade exhibitions and conferences.
Currently the majority of visitors are day-trippers from Hong Kong or China. The average length of stay for tourists is only 1.3 days compared with four days for Las Vegas.
Indeed, the figure raises concern on the possibility of hotel room glut in Macau in coming years. Macau has 11,000 hotel rooms, and there are now at least 4,000 hotel rooms being built.
Nonetheless, Macau will have a MICE centre that is bigger than its neighbour Hong Kongs by next year.
The US$4.5bil The Venetian Macao project that Las Vegas Sands Corp currently is erecting on the reclaimed land at Contai Strip, Macau, consists of a 1.2 million sq ft MICE centre, besides hotels and casinos.
The exhibition centre will be the key driver for the MICE business in Macau.
Sands, which is already operating a casino in Macau, seems to have a head start. The company recently announced that it had signed contracts for five multi-year trade shows that combined 13 separate events.
Among the trade shows that have been signed up to take place at The Venetian Macao are the Asian Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo, CMP Asia Jewellery and Watch Show and Global Gaming Expo Asia.
It also said that it had a lot of shows in the pipeline that it expected to sign by end of the year.