Cities grieve over tourism declines

Macau’s casinos experienced a hard-to-ignore 39% drop in gross gambling revenues last month, year-on-year. The number of Mainlanders arriving on the Individual Visit Scheme fell over 17%. Gambling mogul Steve Wynn saw his company’s revenues in the city fall 38% and slashed dividends. Like several other operators, he has been assuming that the flow of money would grow forever and is investing in new facilities – US$4 billion, in his case – due to open next year. Talk about tragic timing. Uncertainty is plaguing Macau, he says, and “I fear it may erupt in protests against the government…”

But what uncertainty? It seems pretty clear to me. China’s hardcore neo-Maoist puritanical Xi Jinping has decreed that the days of easy corruption and easy money-laundering are over. His plain-clothes enforcers are even prowling Sydney and Vancouver suburbs to drag miscreants back to face the music. Investigators encourage cooperation by forcing feces and urine into suspects’ mouths, wittily calling the concoction ‘eight treasures SCMP-MainlandTariffsporridge’. There is not much uncertainty here. It’s either you or the one-party state – and it’s not going to be the one-party state.

And while Macau people might not dance in the street like their Hong Kong cousins at the prospect of fewer tourists, they are unlikely to ‘erupt in protests’; they have seen few if any gains from the gambling boom, especially once you factor in higher rents and living costs. Maybe it will be aging gambling tycoons like Wynn, Adelson and Stanley Ho who will run riot. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

But wait! There’s more! The Chinese government is to cut tariffs on popular consumer products like cosmetics. (Quick check: Sasa stock down 3.6% this morning.) As with clamping down on corruption, this is one of those things Beijing should have done years ago. The idea of course is to help boost domestic consumption at a time of economic weakness and adjustment. If it succeeds in adding as much as one percentage point to GDP, it will be at the expense of Mainland tourist expenditure on pointless crappy stuff overseas. (There’s also possibly an issue of national face here: you’re supposed to be a rising superpower with gravitas and dignity, and your citizens are flooding into Japan to buy toilet seats.)

Hong Kong’s retail sector might be ‘affected’. Yes please! The South China Morning Post quotes a slightly desperate-sounding tourism bore putting a brave face on what we all sincerely hope will be a fatal blow to his scumbag parasite industry – landlords, essentially. It probably won’t be that good, but it is amusing and gratifying to see where all that groveling and shoe-shining of Chinese officialdom ultimately gets tycoons in both Macau and Hong Kong. The moment the Party’s interests require it, the kick in the teeth comes. It’s enough to make us want to give Xi Dada a big friendly pinch on his chubby cheeks.


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12 Responses to Cities grieve over tourism declines

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    Especially ironic that the patriotic, ‘Murica and God loving Republicans in America go grovel to the likes of Adelson for alms and handouts for their campaigns…financed off the gambling of Chinese Commie corruption.
    Same goes for his super Zionist media ownings in Israel advocating the genocide of the Palestinian people…

  2. Joe Blow says:

    ‘Carrie Comes Calling, Part 2’

    Carrie & Friends came calling in Cheung Sha Wan last nite, to meet and greet the people and to promote the Reform thingy.
    The first unscripted speaker at the open mic raised a voice of protest. In the grand tradition of democracy -in Hong Kong, that is- his microphone was turned off and taken away.

    Afterwards a dozen aunties of the New People Party and the DAB performed a little dance routine. Carrie handed out free pencils and stickers.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    What’s truly sad, I believe, is how easily and cheaply HK people can be bought off by little trinkets and shiny things.
    For f**ks sake…demand at least a months rent, some SaSa cosmetics or a full on seafood buffet for the entire clan before agreeing to be bused into a sham event…

  4. NIMBY says:

    Al-the-Semen should stop moaning Ocean Park let him go about now. He is free to get back to helping promote the ripping off the more vapid expats at the many slightly lower tone mini-Club Volvos he rents. California roll, anyone?

  5. adam says:

    I appreciate the wit as always and know Hemlock dishes out to the pan-dems as well. But at the same time, lets acknowledge this is a negative take on what is generally a good thing: the CCP cleaning up corruption and re-balancing the economy towards consumption. It should ultimately allow a greater number of people to share in the country’s wealth and provide greater market for both domestic and foreign companies.

  6. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ Chinese Netizen

    It’s a good point that plenty of corrupt Chinese loot finds it’s way into American political coffers. How ironic.

    Small correction, if I may, on Adelson’s media, however – they’re hardly advocating genocide on the Palestinians. More like insisting that a civilised “nation” really ought not to fire rockets and bombs into civilian areas or brainwash it’s population to kill all unbelievers, especially Jews. Palestine is hardcore Muslim, lest we forget, and look what Islam is inflicting on the west; imagine the pressures facing a modern conclave surrounded by the Medieval age?

  7. reductio says:

    Hysan down, Sa-sa down, … what’s happening? We need Nicole Elliott to tell us what the future might hold, possibly. I’d love to see those Fibonacci dead cat doji candles if BJ really goes to town on the tariffs.

  8. PD says:

    adam, Let’s be very clear about one thing: our CP will never do anything because it is morally right/is good for the citizens/adds to human happiness.

    If you were, as you boldly say, to “clean up” Chinese corruption, it would be like integrating the patriotic triads into the civil service: you would have to scrub so much that you’d come out the other side. In a word, cleaning it up, assuming the word is being used in international terms, would destroy the very fabric of society.

  9. NIMBY says:

    Cleaning up, Adam, or as the popular economic phrase goes, redistributing the wealth?

  10. FOARP says:

    “the CCP cleaning up corruption and re-balancing the economy towards consumption.”

    Basic fact is that corruption hasn’t gone away, only the most obvious signs of it are being done away with. The CCP is still just as corrupt as ever, the only higher-ups that have been caught up in this anti-corruption drive has been Xi’s enemies. Xi and his family have been massive beneficiary of graft, as Bloomberg reported back in 2012, and the same likely goes for Li Keqiang. If this really were a meaningful anti-corruption drive, Xi would be in jail by now.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    Was Christine on the bus ?

  12. Cassowary says:

    Xi’s anti-corruption drive is so indistinguishable from a political purge that even if it were successful, you have to wonder about what kind of country will emerge from it. Is he building a nation or a fiefdom?

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