Macao will have much to crow about in 2017 as it celebrates the Year of the Rooster with the opening of additional modern integrated resorts to meet the steadily increasing flow of international visitors.
In the wake of last year's record-breaking tourism boom which saw annual visitor numbers increase to almost 31 million, the former Portuguese enclave has also unveiled plans for extra activities and attractions to complement the additional hotels, shops and eateries.
The number of visiting Australians grew by one per cent in 2016 to 93,300.
Last year, Macao welcomed the opening of such plush Cotai hotel-resorts as The Parisian and the Wynn Palace, boosting hotel room numbers to more than 37,600, an increase of 13.9 per cent on 2015.
The number will be further boosted in mid-2017 with such much-anticipated openings as the five-star MGM Cotai, which alone will add another1400 guest rooms and suites.
This year will also see the opening of the so-called “seven-star” THE 13, a $1.3 billion property neighbouring Coloane which promises to offer a comprehensive “lifestyle experience” for the super rich.
The hotel, designed by famous New York architect Peter Marino - creator of flagship stores for the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior - will have 200 multi-level luxury suites with a blend of 17th-century French Renaissance and Baroque décor.
Adding another 780 guest rooms, suites and top-storey villas to the Cotai Strip will be the City of Dreams' distinctly designed Fifth Hotel Tower, its 2017 opening hot on the heels of 2015's successful launch of nearby sister resort Studio City.
“By having additional hotels, activities, eateries and attractions, visitors will have no reason not to stay an extra night or two,” said Helen Wong, general manager of the Macao Government Tourism Office (Australian and New Zealand).
“We are expecting another exciting year now that The Parisian and the Wynn Palace have opened,” she said. “Who had thought you could go on a gondola ride one minute, then take an elevator ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower a few strides away.”
In addition to the attractions created along the Cotai Strip of integrated resorts, a street presence of traditional pedi-cabs will be increased and positioned in additional key locations in 2017, thus increasing the number of free 20-minute rides offered to holidaymakers.
While moves are underway to have two sightseeing boat tours, one an amphibious duck, operating between the Macao peninsula and the adjoining islands of Taipa and Coloane before the end of the year.
Historic Taipa village has also come in for special treatment through the creation of a festive atmosphere for its narrow lanes and quaint squares.
The opening of new restaurants and indoor and outdoor art galleries along with additional street performances near the lovingly maintained colonial-style Taipa Houses are planned.
Plans are also in motion to restore some of the historic buildings on Coloane, famous for its fishing village, beaches and bush walking trails – the virtual lungs of Macao.
Meanwhile, construction continues on the above-ground multi-million dollar Light Rapid Transit light rail system which will ultimately link each of these major holiday resorts.
Perhaps the most ambitious project, this vital road link is planned for opening within the next two years is the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge which will span 35.6kms and drive extra visitors to Macao.