G2E Asia: Post-pandemic gaming behavior in Asia
“It becomes too expensive for leisure travelers to come to Singapore.”
At G2E Asia, Angela Hanlee, Senior Analyst for APAC Gaming & Leisure at Bloomberg, spoke about the future of gaming in Asia and the industry post-Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for Macau. The region has witnessed many ups and downs, with Covid-19 restrictions and regulatory changes having a huge impact on gaming revenue in the regional province. Hanlee stated:
“Macau gaming was the biggest market before the pandemic, followed by Singapore and the Philippines and this situation changed a lot after the pandemic.
“Business travellers can still pay to come here to make money, but if you talk about the other travellers, it becomes too expensive for leisure travellers to come to Singapore. That’s the reason why we are seeing it be a bit down here.”
“Macau is actually making a really quick comeback, as you see here in one year, 2022. The gaming revenue in Macau was only 23% of our pre pre-pandemic numbers. It’s already 45% and it’s improving further. I went to Macau last week for the lunar opening, and I saw that the whole gaming floor, most of the gaming floors in the area, had been packed.”
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau is now on the increase and had risen to MOP$11.58bn (US$1.43bn) for January, its highest monthly total for three years, since before the Covid-19 pandemic; overtaking Nevada.
Speaking of post-pandemic tourism in China, Hanlee stated: “They are all on their road to travelling, but the budget per hand is going down. That means that we are actually seeing China as a big economy that is still growing, but we still see that the spending power of the Chinese capital is going down. Also, the spending power of Chinese travellers is going down in general. This is not about Macau. This is about mainland China.”
Not only are tourists spending less but so are Chinese residents; and people are now visiting scenic areas outside of the mainland as it’s cheaper.
Hanlee continued: “We saw that in the first quarter of this year, the outbound flight passengers number only reached 10 to 20% of pre-pandemic numbers, which is very low. So what that means is that all people want to go on to travel, but they cannot afford to go too far.
“If you just end up going to Macau or Hong Kong, you know they are spending there, and people who used to go to big cities like Beijing and Shanghai for travelling, they are not going to go somewhere else – they are going to look for natural stuff like going to the mountains and seas.”
This is not about Macau. This is about mainland China
However, in regards to in-country travelling, Hanlee argues Macau is actually an ideal travel destination for both Chinese citizens as well as travellers visiting China, or other provinces within China, which could add to the growth of the market in Macau but subtract from the market in Singapore.
“So in a sense it looks like everyone is spending less. We still believe Macau is well positioned for this demand, because it is still a very attractive destination. It’s probably one of the cheapest offshore travel destinations for Chinese travellers because they cannot go to other places.”
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