Survey provides insight into motives of the millions now visiting Macau

The rise and rise of Macau as a tourist destination over the past decade has provided one of the great success stories in Asia. And the city has now been handed the first survey to look into just who it is that is visiting the Special Administrative Region of China - and why.

Last year almost 25 million people visited Macau, an all-time record and a rise of 15 percent, year on year. The charge has continued on into 2011, with close to 16 million people heading to the enclave over the first seven months of the year - a rise of nearly 10 percent from figures recorded in 2010.

The city has, over the past decade, invested heavily in massive casino resorts - and so successful have they been that Macau is this year on line to make more than five times the amount collected from casinos in Las Vegas, the city which was for so long the center of the casino universe. Over the first seven months of the year Macau collected 148.34 billion patacas (12.7 billion euros) in casino revenues.

No surprise, then, that when the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Macau sat down to produce its first Macau Visitor Profile Study it found the casinos were the city's biggest attraction.

In the end, 44.5 percent of those polled said casinos were the most-desired destination during a visit to Macau, with shopping (19.2 percent) and the city's famed World Heritage sites (10.6 percent) the others.

Meanwhile, 49.1 percent of visitors claimed they came to Macau to sightsee - ahead of shopping (20 percent) and gambling or gambling-related activities (16.4 percent). Leveling that result out was the fact that almost half of visitors (48.3 percent) did admit to doing a bit of speculating on the gaming tables while on their visits.

Good news for the city's leaders was that 82.1 percent of visitors said they were satisfied by their visits to Macau, and 50.3 percent said they planned to return within the year,

The study polled 3,808 visitors aged over 18 over the first six months of the year.

Macau's traditional "top three" markets are mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan but the city has experienced significant growth from other markets, most impressively South Korea, which has sent almost 30 percent more tourists (231,000) to the city this year.

Macau's main attraction:

Casinos: 44.5 percent
Shopping: 19.2 percent
World Heritage sites: 10.6 percent
Food: 8 percent
Mix of Chinese/Western cultures: 6 percent
Hotels: 4.6 percent
Others: 6.2 percent.

Reasons for not gambling:

No interest: 55.3 percent
Not enough time: 17.4 percent
Gambling is negative: 8.1 percent
Not enough money: 5.4 percent
Casino ambiance is negative: 1.5 percent
Religious problems: 1.3 percent
Others: 10.9 percent.

MS

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