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Macao to diversify development as gaming revenue slumps

2014-12-20 15:31 Xinhua Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

President Xi Jinping on Saturday urged appropriately diversified and sustainable economic development in Macao at a gathering marking the 15th anniversary of Macao's return to China.[Special coverage]

Noting rapid economic and social progress, Xi said, "Certain deep-seated problems formed over the years have surfaced, and development risks have built up to some extent" in the region.

"It is important for Macao to adopt a global, nationwide, future-oriented and long-term perspective, formulate appropriate plans and blueprints for its development and promote sound economic and social development," he said in a speech delivered at the Macao East Asian Games Dome.

The president stressed the necessity to make long-term planning, seize the opportunity of the national efforts to comprehensively deepen reform, and promote appropriately diversified and sustainable economic development in Macao based on its positioning as a global tourism and leisure hub and a service platform for economic and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

"Macao needs to enhance top-level planning and specify concrete steps and measures for progress," Xi said. "It needs to follow a two-pronged approach, improving its own ability of development while strengthening regional cooperation."

Macao needs to solve difficult problems in its development, strengthen and improve regulation and supervision over the gaming industry and nurture new growth areas for its economy, according to Xi.

On the other hand, it needs to make good use of the policies and measures put forward by the central government to support Macao's development and deepen its cooperation with the mainland, particularly with Guangdong province and the Pan-Pearl River Delta region.

"Macao needs to expand its development space and gain greater impetus for its development through regional cooperation and strive for common development and progress with the mainland," Xi said.

The president arrived here on Friday and attended the inauguration of the fourth-term government of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Saturday morning.

Firstly legalized in the mid-19th century, Macao's casino gaming has developed a very close relationship with the tourism industry and become a pillar of local economy.

With 35 casinos, 5,716 gaming tables and 12,873 slot machines, Macao has overtaken Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue nearly a decade ago.

The gaming industry contributed over 76 percent of the Macao SAR government's revenues. However, its revenue fell for the sixth straight month in November after a decade-long rapid growth.

To lessen the overwhelming dependence on gaming which is especially risky for a micro economy like Macao, the government vowed to "appropriately diversify" its economy by expanding its portfolio to develop tourism, including upscale shopping malls, resorts and convention centers, and traditional Chinese medicine.

A popular travel destination boasting the unique assimilation and co-existence of Chinese and Western cultures, Macao recorded some 29.3 million visitor arrivals in 2013.

"The slower growth of the gambling industry has offered an opportunity to develop non-gambling elements," said Leong Man Ion, deputy director of the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau.

Analysts pointed out that as one of the fastest-developing region in the world, Macao is embracing a "new normal" situation, featuring a transfer from high growth rate to a medium and steady growth stage, which will accelerate the strategic adjustment of its economic structure.

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