|The Macau Statistics and Census Bureau has published tourism figures for the Chinese province for the first half of 2004. These figures show that 7.73 million visitors arrived in Macau in the first six months of this year, which is a 52.6 percent increase compared to the same period last year. What makes the figures even more impressive is that Macau itsef is home to only 451,000 residents.|
The main source of tourism for the province is its gambling industry, which was legalised two years ago. There are now 14 casinos available in the territory, and the gambling industry there is reported to be the world’s most profitable. In 2003 the combined revenues of tourism and gambling made up approximately 50 percent of the GDP of Macau.
Another factor believed to have had an impact on this year’s tourism figures, is the increase of tourists from mainland China, who are now able to travel to both Macau and Hong Kong, following the FIT (facilitated individual travel) scheme introduced by Beijing last year. It is well known that gambling is a popular pursuit within China, but with most forms remaining illegal, the legalised venues in Macau provide a strong attraction for Chinese tourists.