Asian gambling destinations compete to woo Chinese high rollers
Macau is facing fierce competition from markets in Southeast Asia, including Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand and Korea for Chinese high rollers.
Travel agencies are offering customized gaming trips to lure Chinese tourists
Major casinos in the Philippines are promoting mini-break packages to entice Chinese tourists.
Travel agencies such as the Guotal Trip, which is based in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, can arrange customized gaming trips, which you will not find on the company's link atTaobao.com, China's largest online shopping platform.
Li Haiwen, who works for Guotal Trip, revealed that four Chinese groups had booked gaming trips to Manila in the Philippines in May.
"Yes, we can book the VIP tables andhotel rooms for you in the casinos," he said. "Just let me know when you want to leave and how long you are planning to stay."
Packages, which range from 10,000 yuan ($1,587) to up 600,000 yuan, include mini-breaks to Casino Manila and the Solaire Resort and Casino in the Philippines' capital.
"We can also exchange your currency, which will help with the foreign exchange restrictions. But there will be an extra charge," Li added, without revealing what the charge would be.
As the Philippines be-comes a hot destination for Chinese tourists with a passion for gambling, casino operators there are hiring Mandarin-speaking staff to deal with VIP guests. For the real high-rollers, free flights, limousines andhotel rooms are all part of the perks if they are willing to wager at least 300,000 yuan.
"Those customers who play with high chips can enjoy the VIP service, including bodyguards and valets, and their personal information will be kept secret," Li said.
The gambling industry has helped fuel growth in the tourism sector in the Philippines, gradually nibbling away at Macao's domestic market.
"I had customers who usually went to Macao to gamble before, but because of the anti-corruption campaign they now prefer to go to the Philippines," Li said.
Other Asian players are also moving into the market, such as South Korea and Vietnam, in a move to attract tourists who enjoy playing the tables.
South Korea, of course, has always been a popular destination before the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in Seoul, which has killed 29 people.
"We had customers who liked to go to South Korea to gamble before the MERS outbreak," said Cui Zhixian, who works at the travel agency Wuyan Trip in Harbin, Heilongjiang province.
Karen Tang, an analyst from Deutsche Bank, has predicted that the gaming business in other Asian countries is likely to expand as Chinese gamblers move their chips from Macao.
"We are facing fierce competition from markets in Southeast Asia, including Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand," said Kevin Clayton, chief marketing officer of Galaxy Entertainment Group in Macao.
"Asia is still an important market for our business, but we need to adjust the model more toward non-gaming sector to adapt the new changes in the market."
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