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Boom Time for Macau

5 June 2006

MACAU – As reported by the Malaysia Star: "…Last year, Macau received over 18 million visitors, of which nearly two-thirds were from China.

"The number of Chinese tourists visiting Macau has surged since 2002 when China began to loosen the travelling restrictions on its people to visit the two special administrative regions (SAR) – Hong Kong and Macau.

"…Currently people in 50 Chinese cities are permitted to travel to Hong Kong and Macau.

"Besides good food and centuries-old historical sites, casino is no doubt the big magnet for tourists to this former Portuguese colony that borders southern China's Guangdong province and a strait apart from Hong Kong.

"…Gaming industry has been rooted in Macau for 120 years.

"But the booms and waves of change in this over 100-year-old industry were never this strong before.

"Gaming revenue has more than doubled in the past four years. It soared to US$5.6bil last year from US$2.5bil in 2001. Casinos accounted for 97% of it.

"…Macau, whose size is only one-tenth of Kuala Lumpur's, is now evolving fast into the world's biggest resort city. It is expected to overtake, if it hasn't yet, Las Vegas in terms of revenue and number of visitors.

"…When Stanley Ho's casino licence expired in 2002, it opened up the window of opportunity for the authorities to end the tycoon's 40-year-old monopoly in the casino business.

"That marked the beginning of a new chapter in Macau's casino business.

"…Given the big population and the rising affluence in China, casino owners seem to have bet their bottom dollar on a bright prospect for Macau's gaming business…"

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