Macau’s events industry is expecting a major rebound in 2023, following the lifting of pandemic restrictions and quarantine terms which led to a surge of visitors to the city during the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday period.
In a recent gathering of local events and industry association leaders, Vincent U, acting president at the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute's (IPIM) – the government agency responsible for the MICE sector – outlined Macau's goal of holding 700 to 1,000 MICE activities in 2023 and encouraged the sector to reach at least 50% of its pre-pandemic performance levels.
A number of conventions with more than a thousand attendees will be held in Macau, he added, one with an expected attendance exceeding 10,000 participants.
Stephanie Tanpure, vice president of sales at Sands China, said she was “excited” to see the start of the recovery.
“We will be welcoming back two large international corporations for their annual sales incentives in February and March at Sands Resorts Macao respectively,” she said. “Both corporations have international offices in more than 50 countries and we are delighted that we can welcome back such groups as early as the first quarter of 2023.”
Sands' own Cotai Water Jet resumed ferry services between Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal (Sheung Wan) and Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal from 8 January and has also resumed its cross-border bus routes with Guangdong province.
“Our team is closely monitoring the situation and the challenges faced in staffing, flight and ferry schedule limitations, and we will ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests and that our operation is prepared for the highest level of service delivery,” she added.
Tanpure also said that Sands China will be opening its new 6,000-seater Londoner Arena soon, adding to its event and entertainment space.
On the other side of the Cotai Strip, Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) plans to open its Phase 3 complex. GEG will invest MOP27.5 billion (US$3.4 billion) in non-gaming projects over the next decade.
Although no specific date has yet been announced, GEG will open the Galaxy International Convention Center (GICC), to attract and host a variety of international and regional MICE events, including B2B events, international corporate events, B2C events and regional exchange forums. Once open, GICC will offer 40,000sqm of flexible MICE space.
Like many other destinations, staff shortages are a key concern not only for Macau's events sector but for the tourism and hospitality industries across the board.
Bruno Simoes, managing director of meetings and events firm DOC-DMC and executive director of event management and teambuilding company smallWORLD Experience, said: “Macau's MICE industry has been gravely affected by the same adversities encountered in Hong Kong and China, resulting in severe losses for hoteliers, transport operators, and event agencies. Many enterprises have unfortunately closed due long periods without business.
"This remains a major challenge with many companies operating at less than half of their pre-2019 staffing numbers. However, larger hotels are better equipped to cater to business needs as they were able to access financial reserves, unlike smaller firms, during this challenging time.”