TAT bullish on casino investment
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TAT bullish on casino investment

Agency head believes there will be a market for foreign outlays

Gaming machines at the MGM Cotai casino in Macau in 2018.
Gaming machines at the MGM Cotai casino in Macau in 2018.

Thailand stands a good chance of attracting investments in entertainment complexes as MGM China Holdings is looking for new overseas investments, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

After meeting Pansy Ho, chairperson and executive director of MGM China Holdings, on Thursday, TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool said MGM China wants to promote Macau tourism to the Thai market, while also searching for new investment options in Thailand's proposed entertainment complex.

She said investment from a global company would stimulate international markets in Thailand, particularly Asian travellers led by China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Thailand is drafting the new legislation and regulations required to regulate entertainment complexes, which will include legal casinos.

Ms Thapanee said the TAT plans to hold discussions with MGM over possible collaboration to improve Thailand's competitiveness through new tourism-related products, including man-made attractions, which should be promoted along with regular activities throughout the year.

According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the Thai tourism sector has to secure 2.4 trillion baht in the last seven months of this year to meet its target of 3.5 trillion, as it only generated 1.1 trillion during the first five months.

Iwan Dietschi, senior vice-president of hospitality at MGM China, an operator of two integrated resorts in Macau, said the Thai market is among its top priorities as it represents the company's largest group of visitors from Southeast Asia and the fastest growing market.

Thai customers at MGM hotels in 2024 have increased 30% year-on-year, said Mr Dietschi.

MGM China established a sales representative in Thailand, aiming to expand this market further.

Hotels in Macau have rebounded, largely attributed to visitors from Southeast Asia as well as China, who remain a major source market for Macau tourism despite the economic slowdown.

The company joined the "Experience Macao Roadshow in Bangkok" tourism event organised by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), which runs until Sunday at CentralWorld, as part of a plan to bolster the Thai outbound market.

Mr Dietschi declined to elaborate on investment opportunities related to entertainment complexes in Thailand.

According to MGTO, visitors from Thailand were the fifth-largest nationality group of arrivals in Macau during the first five months of 2024.

Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG), which is headquartered in Macau, also joined the roadshow to tap high-spending Thai tourists, banking on its nine luxury hotels featuring 5,500 rooms.

According to GEG, said the tourism market in Macau has gradually improved, mainly driven by Chinese tourists after an additional 10 cities in mainland China were permitted to apply for the Individual Visit Scheme to travel to Macau.

During the first quarter, GEG recorded revenue growth of 50% year-on-year to US$10.6 billion. Revenue growth for Galaxy Macau was 55%, aligning with a 79% increase year-on-year for overall arrivals to Macau, tallying 8.9 million. China was the largest market with 6.3 million travellers.

GEG has a plan to open a new office in Bangkok, aiming to increase the number of Thais visiting the region.

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