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   The Macau Government announced on February 8 the winners of an international tender for three casino-operating concessions. The three winners are Stanley Ho Hung-sun's Sociedade de Jogos de Macau/SJM (Macau Gaming Company), which started operating on April 1, Wynn Resorts (Macau) Limited and Galaxy Casino Company Limited.

   Macau Government Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Francis Tam Pak Yuen pointed out that the liberalisation of the gaming industry would greatly benefit the economy of Macau as a whole.

   SJM has promised to invest at least four billion patacas in Macau's entertainment and tourism industry and cultural projects over the next few years, including a Cultural Village in the Inner Harbour, a Fisherman's Wharf in the Outer Harbour, an amusement park complete with a giant Ferris wheel and a state-of-the art roller coaster, as well as a luxury hotel and "supreme private club" for high-stakes gamblers.

   Galaxy Casino, which includes The Venetian company headed by business mogul Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas, has pledged to invest at least 8.8 billion patacas over the next few years. The company, which also includes business interests from Hong Kong, promised to bring world-class entertainment, conference facilities hospitality to Macau, such as a multi-purpose convention centre, an art museum, a string of top-class restaurants, as well as state-of-the art gaming facilities.

   Wynn Resorts (Macau) Ltd., which is headed by gaming magnate Steve Wynn from Las Vegas, has promised to invest at least four billion patacas in two major entertainment and gaming centres in Macau. Mr Wynn said he was determined to bring "great fun" to Macau, namely "exciting entertainment" and "a wonderful level of service."

   Tourism and casino gambling are the mainstays of Macau's economy. The industry generated about 40 per cent of Macau's gross domestic product and some 60 per cent of the Government's recurrent revenue in 2001, when the Special Administrative Region welcomed a record 10.2 million visitor arrivals.

   The Macau Government is determined to turn the Special Administrative Region into a world-class tourism, gaming and entertainment destination and an international business service and conference centre, based on its four-century old history as a meeting place between the East and the West.



    Macau welcomed 10.278 million visitor arrivals last year, the highest number on record, the Macau Statistics and Census Bureau said. Compared with 2000, when Macau recorded 9.162 million visitor arrivals, last year's number rose 12.2 per cent.

   Visitors from the Greater China area - Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan - made up 93.9 per cent of the total number last year, when 50.6 per cent of all arrivals were Hong Kong citizens, 29.2 per cent mainland Chinese and 14.1 per cent Taiwanese. Other major visitor segments came from Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

   About 43.2 per cent of all visitors were members of tour groups, according to the bureau.



   The Macau Government expects the opening-up of the gaming industry to expand the so-called MICE -meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions - tourism segment in the medium term.

   "Following the opening-up of Macau's gaming industry, billions of patacas will be invested in Macau in the construction of theme hotels and other tourism infrastructures, something that will contribute to expand tourism related with the MICE industry," the Government's Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, said at a press conference to announce this year's "tourism promotion strategies" of the Macau Government Tourist Office.

   Chui described the tourism and gaming sector, which is officially estimated to have generated around 40 per cent of Macau's gross domestic product last year, as the "dragon head" of the Special Administrative Region's future economic development.


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