Macau’s visitor arrivals in March rose 7.3% over the previous year, but the city’s director of tourism expects 2012’s total figure will be up more than 10% over 2011’s 28m (which was up 12% over 2010). Speaking to Bloomberg during a trip to New York, João Manuel Costa Antunes says China will once again top the list of countries contributing to Macau’s influx. To accommodate all these tourists, Antunes said he expects Macau’s number of hotel rooms to more than double over the next five years, from its current 23k to 50k.
Contrary to what a lot of nervous Nevada casino boosters like to claim, once those tourists disembark onto Macau soil, they will find plenty more than just gambling with which to occupy their time. Starting May 19, the Venetian Macau will welcome back Ice World, Asia’s biggest indoor ice event. The collection of ice sculptures, which attracted 230k visitors last year, will take root at CotaiExpo in a 1,700-square-meter hall cooled to a balmy -8° Celsius. The exhibit will run until Sept. 16. If frozen water is a little too inanimate for your taste, MGM Macau is launching a butterfly exhibit featuring over 130 different species of Lepidoptera. The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention will take over MGM’s Grande Praça beginning May 16. And if that’s too sedate for you, the 59th Macau Grand Prix will get underway on Nov. 15 and casino operator Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) will once again take pole position as sole official sponsor plus title sponsor of the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix and the Guia Race of Macau events.
According to Australian researchers, there has been an alarming rise in the levels of myopia among Chinese youth. Professor Ian Morgan of the Australian National University told the BBC that the average level of myopia – marked by blurred vision beyond 2m (6.6’) – has risen from 20-30% of Chinese students of school-leaving age a couple generations ago to “well over 80%, heading for 90% in young adults.” The researchers suggest an increased focus on education – with long hours spent indoors studying and doing homework without taking regular breaks to expose students’ eyes to sunlight – may be the determining factor in the phenomenon. If there’s a plus side here, it’s that baccarat cards are rarely held beyond one meter from a player’s eyes, so this likely won’t have a significant effect on Macau’s revenues. (Yes, we’re that cynical.)