Budget travellers squeezed in Macau

Visitors to casino city must be ready to splurge, as five-star hotels account for 64pc of options

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 5:57am

Budget travellers may find once-sleepy Macau offering them fewer options as most hotel rooms in the "Las Vegas of the East" are now supplied by five-star hotels.

According to the Macau Statistics and Census Service, about 26,000 rooms were offered by 67 hotels and 33 guesthouses at the end of September. Five-star hotels accounted for 17,000 - about 64 per cent of the total.

Figures from the Macau Hotel Association show that the average room rate of a five-star hotel is about 1,600 patacas.

Domingo Lamarre, 24, a Canadian exchange student at City University who travelled to Macau in September, said he regarded a reasonable price for a room sleeping four as C$80 to C$100, or 640 to 800 patacas.

Chen Jiexian, 22, a student from Guangzhou, said she did not stay overnight in Macau because rooms were too expensive.

"There are so few hostels in Macau. They are troublesome [to apply for] and are far away [from the city centre]."

There are only two youth hostels providing 140 beds in Macau, both of them on the outermost island of Coloane, with prices ranging from 100 to 220 patacas for non-locals.

In his policy address this year, Macau's chief executive, Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, listed as an objective "to encourage the construction of economical hotels" to make the city a world centre of tourism and leisure.

The Macau Government Tourist Office said it had given priority to all licence applications for budget accommodation, but the choice of opening budget or high-end accommodation rested with investors.

In 2008, the Pearl River Delta Development Outline positioned Macau as a world centre of tourism and leisure. The Macau Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association said the occupancy rate of guesthouses was only 60 per cent in September so there should be enough low-cost accommodation for travellers to choose.

But the programme co-ordinator of hospitality and gaming management at Macau University, Amy So Siu-ian, said the guest houses needed renovation or restoration.

She said Macau should have more budget hotels and the city did not have many choices for budget travellers compared to other places in Asia. Some tourists chose to make a day trip to Macau and stay elsewhere to avoid the high hotel prices.

Over half of the more than two million visitors to Macau did not stay overnight in September.

"If Macau wants to become a world centre of tourism and leisure, we should not just attract wealthy visitors but also travellers who may want to enjoy their leisure time in Macau with affordable accommodation," So said.