MGM China co-chair Pansy Ho has pointed the finger at labor shortage as one of the biggest reasons hampering Macau’s tourism potential Speaking at a global tourism forum, Ho stressed that Macau needs more foreign workers to keep up with the growing businesses and infrastructures in the former Portuguese colony.
“The labor issue is the biggest challenge,” Ho said, as quoted by Macau Business Daily. “We don’t have enough labor to fulfill our capacity. What is happening in Macau is the reverse of the feeling that if we continue to bring on board foreign labor it’s going to cause unemployment. Even employees are saying that they feel the pressure of overworking.”
Ho suggested that an expansion in Macau’s job pool could alleviate some of the labor shortages, even though she also stressed that doing so would require a delicate balance that wouldn’t end up with local residents complaining of not having too many job opportunities because a lot of overseas workers have taken them.
Macau currently imposes strict limits on importing foreign workers and non-residents. It even imposes a ban on any non-resident from working as dealers on casino floors. But with more casinos expected to begin mass hirings in anticipation of new resorts opening on Cotai, there could come a point where there’s not enough locals to fill up all the positions required in these establishments.
In a separate interview, Ho also lamented the effects of Beijing’s decision to travels to Hong Kong as having had an impact on visitor arrivals in Macau. “It has had an impact, I have to admit. Macau started showing signs that it was affected during the past two weeks or so,” Ho told the territory’s main radio and television network provider.
The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong has forced the mainland to suspend visas for tour groups heading to the former British colony. Indirectly, Ho believes that Macau feels the ill effects of these visa suspensions. “Macau needs to work with practically all our neighboring regions,” she added. “I think we should continue to nurture that relationship and we should continue doing what is best, economically.”
Meanwhile, gaming operator Melco Crown Entertainment has been accused of violating the mass floor full smoking ban in two of its casinos—City of Dreams and Altira Macau.
“In the first two weeks, we were very satisfied with the new ban’s implementation, but now there have been some changes that impose a bigger threat to casino workers’ health,” Mr Choi Kam Fu, director-general of the Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff’s Association, said in a press conference.
Employees from the two casinos have complained to the Macao Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) saying that gamblers from high-betting areas in the casinos’ mass gaming floors were permitted to smoke again.
Director of FAOM’s Department of Rights and Interests said that the two casinos were “exploiting legal loopholes and “challenging the government’s law enforcement.”
According to Lei, smoking ban in casino mass areas was put into effect on October 6; Comes October 21, City of Dreams’s staff members got an oral notification that smoking would be allowed in a high-betting area from 11 p.m. onwards. Meanwhile in Altira Macau, the mass floor was converted into “VIP area” that has permitted smoking since October 22.
“In order to ‘meet’ the so-called definition of ‘VIP rooms,’ the operator started to request that guests register membership for entering this area; it’s also using ‘promotional tokens’ to act as the VIP room tokens there,” Lei added. “The government has clearly stated that it’s not approving new smoking areas to be set up. We are concerned that such violations against the smoking ban might ‘infect’ other casino operators.”
The union representatives appeal for strict implementation of smoking ban in high-betting areas as well as prohibiting smoking in all areas within casinos.