The neighbour of Macau, Zhuhai is planning to auction off a piece of land measuring 226,000 square meters (55.8 acres) that it believes will entice the multi-billion dollar casino giants to cross the bridge and invest in fresh restaurants and conference facilities.
Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai–jointly recognised as the Greater Bay Area after the 34-mile ocean bridge crossing that connects the three areas opened last year–are all bet on enhanced business trips. Local rulers are pressing for diversification in an effort to decrease their dependence on casino income for Macau, the world’s wealthiest gaming destination.
MICE is the name of the new game, an industry term for “meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions.” Zhuhai officials say the auction process for the lanced plot north of the port of Zhuhai will begin on October 9 and run through October 18. The starting bid is 5.64 billion yuan (790 million dollars).
The land is situated close where Zhuhai travellers are dumped off by the Hong Kong-Macau bridge. The world’s longest ocean crossing reduces automotive time from about four hours to 35 minutes between Hong Kong and Macau.
In China, gambling is prohibited, Macau being the sole exception–meaning that no casinos in Zhuhai can be constructed. The People’s Republic also has a lottery run by the state as well.
Currently, Macau’s six casino providers account for approximately 90% of tax income from the enclave.
Macau Liaison Office Director Fu Ziying and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) both suggested that the Special Administrative Region (SAR) promote casino license owners to invest in more hotel spaces and MICE equipment. In a notice this week, Morgan Stanley said that Macau does not have enough hotel spaces to help the increasing visitation of the mass market.
With land restricted, Macau could allow the casinos to invest in non-gaming initiatives in neighboring locations like Zhuhai with certain rewards.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Vincent Cheung, Managing Director of Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal said: “If the parcel of land is sold, it will set a benchmark for the property market, as well as a benchmark for land for tourism in the Greater Bay Area as a whole.
“Zhuhai wants to become a leader in tourism in the Greater Bay Area. Zhuhai was already in the business tourism industry long before Macau showed up. But the rise of Macau’s casinos has led to a decline in customers coming to Zhuhai.”
Zhuhai is situated south of the Macau Peninsula, while Hengqin Island is situated just southeast of the Cotai Strip, another Macau neighbour that is much bigger in terms of property volume. Macau casinos are already using Hengqin for MICE innovations.