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Macau Visitor Numbers Skyrocket

20 July 2004

MACAU – As reported by the Ponto Final: "Macau, which has just 451,000 residents, recorded 7.73 million visitor arrivals in the first half of the year, an increase of 52.6 per cent on the same period last year, the Macau Statistics and Census Bureau said on Tuesday.

"…The bureau attributed the strong increase mainly to the growing arrival number of solo mainland Chinese tourists visiting Macau, following Beijing's launch last summer of the so-called facilitated individual travel (FIT) scheme, which is gradually opening up designated mainland cities and provinces for individual travel to Macau and Hong Kong. Previously, most mainland tourists had to join tightly organised tour groups to visit the two special administrative regions.

"… Tour guides say Macau's main tourist attractions continue to be its gaming industry, which is reputedly the world's most profitable, as well as its four-century old Sino-Portuguese cultural and architectural heritage and its Macanese cuisine.

"Macau, which liberalised its 157-year old gaming industry two years ago, now has 14 casinos, 12 of which are run by octogenarian gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun's Sociedade de Jogos de Macau/SJM.

"…The two other casinos, Sands and Galaxy Waldo, are separately operated by The Venetian from Las Vegas and the Galaxy Casino & Resort Company from Hong Kong.

"…Tourism and casinos are estimated by economists to have generated about half of Macau's gross domestic product last year.

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