Gaming Experts Disagree Whether Hengqin Island Child-Focused Entertainment Site Will Succeed

A National Geographic children-focused entertainment site introduced this week in Novotown district of Hengqin Island, approximately five miles from Macau, has US gaming specialists disagreeing whether the Chinese initiative will succeed, given the focus on gambling in the region.

National Geographic Ultimate Explorer Hengqin is 14,764 square feet and has 15 attractions aimed children aged six to twelve and their families. The displays are related to science, climate, and outer space.

The site is controlled by a National Geographic Partners license, which is a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and the National Geographic Society.

Novotown, a non-gamblers tourist location, already involves Lionsgate Entertainment World, based on famous movies. In the future, further non-gambling-focused offers could be opened.

Hengqin is three times the size of the famous gaming enclave, situated west of Macau. The six-lane Lotus Bridge connects it to Cotai.

“By positioning Hengqin as the epicenter of family-friendly fun, we are providing travelers with more choices than ever, while also helping to foster the continued diversification of Macau’s economy,” Gu Guangxin, deputy director of the Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area, said at the venue launch, GGRAsia reported.

“[The] opening will add a bright pearl to Hengqin’s leisure tourism industry, and will also promote Hengqin to attract more … family tours,” Guangxin added. “Passengers and the Macau tourism industry have formed a multi-faceted complementary situation, extending the stay time of passengers in Macau and Hengqin.”

Sheryl Kimes, emeritus professor of operations management at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, points out that, “Having a family-oriented zone might attract additional tourists to Macau, since people might be more inclined to bring their families.

“And, if the family-oriented activities were interesting enough, perhaps even non-gambling families might come.”  However she went on to say she does not “necessarily see it” as something that indicates the gambling market in the Macau region is saturated.

She said that make such family-focused attractions successful they need to be “fun and family-friendly.  And, if they want to cross-sell this with the casinos, make it easy for people to get back and forth.

“Another thing that can help is to provide kid-friendly activities and supervision so that the parents can go to the casinos if they like without having to worry about their children’s well-being,” Kimes added.