Macau to unveil five-year economic diversification plan as city aims to reduce gaming industry over-reliance

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has revealed that a comprehensive five-year economic diversification plan for Macau, titled ‘Plan for Moderate Economic Diversification of Macau Special Administrative Region (2024-2028),’ will “soon” be made public. The move is part of an effort to reduce the city’s over-reliance on the gaming industry.

The announcement was made during the second plenary session of the city’s Economic Development Committee on Tuesday morning. The plan aims to outline detailed development goals and projects across various sectors.

Among the sectors covered in the plan are tourism and leisure, traditional Chinese medicine, technologically driven healthcare, modern finance, high technology, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions), culture, and sports. It will also address approaches to transform and upgrade the city’s traditional industries.

To ensure a well-rounded and informed plan, the SAR government notes it held consultation sessions with local delegates to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Moreover, members of the SAR’s Executive Council and the Legislative Assembly, industry and community leaders, as well as experts and scholars, provided their insights.

During the meeting, Chief Executive Ho provided updates on the government’s progress in formulating the five-year plan. He emphasized the importance of collaboration with the local community to accelerate the plan’s implementation, as reported by Macau Business.

In 2022, the city leader proposed adopting a ‘1+4’ economic diversification development strategy. The strategy aims to enrich Macau’s role as a “World Centre of Tourism and Leisure” and focuses on developing four nascent industries: the ‘big health’ industry, modern financial services, high technology, and conferences and exhibitions, commerce and trade, culture, and sports.

New strategy to impact Macau’s gaming industry

A notable aspect of the city’s diversification efforts is that Macau’s gaming operators have been mandated to invest in non-gaming projects as part of their new 10-year concession contracts with the government.

The total non-gaming investment commitments pledged by the six casino concessionaires amount to MOP108.7 billion (US$13.5 billion). The move aims to promote economic diversification and reduce the region’s reliance on the gaming industry.

The investment plan covers a diverse range of projects and activities, including MICE events, entertainment, sporting events, arts and culture, health and well-being, gastronomy, and community tourism.

The economic diversification measures come in the wake of the SAR’s ‘Second Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development for the 2021-2025 period”, which also sought to accelerate the diversification of the economy and foster cooperation with neighboring regions amid the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Macau’s gaming-dependent economy.

A recent study conducted by scholars from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Research Institute, Shandong University, and the University of Macau highlighted that Macau would undergo a challenging and critical test as it diversifies its economy.

The report emphasized that Macau must address a number of social issues ‘neglected because of the illusion of ongoing prosperity’ brought about by the gaming industry, which experienced explosive growth following the city’s return to Chinese rule.