Macau has come a long way and in the last 10 years, its true transformation has become even more apparent. The city is a special administrative region (SAR) of China that embodies a unique character and charm brought by the colonization of the Portuguese. As a SAR, Macau maintains an independent governing and economic system. Unbeknownst to many, it is the ninth-highest recipient of tourism revenue and its gambling industry is seven times larger than that of Las Vegas. Often cited as the city with the fourth-highest life expectancy in the world, we take a trip down memory lane to see the amazing events that marked Macau’s last decade of shining glory.
While Macau has continued to dominate the gaming industry in Asia, the past years bore witness to exemplary achievements in tourism. The continuous urban development has paved the way for Macau to develop its brand as a travel destination. In 2010, an approximate number of 25 million visitors flocked to Macau. Fast forward to 2019, 39.4 million tourists were recorded to have visited this fine city! While the year has just begun, it’s important to highlight what makes Macau a must-visit location. Apart from a colorful history, this city boasts the Historic Centre of Macao that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are so many places to discover and explore. The city also plays hosts to spectacular events that continue to flourish and seal the identity of this vibrant city such as the Macao International Fireworks Festival, and the Macao Grand Prix that marks its 67th year this 2020.
It may come as a surprise to many that Macau’s free-market economy produced total exports of MOP 8.94 billion in 2011. It consisted mainly of clothing, textiles, footwear, toys, electronics, machinery and parts. Apart from tourism, Macau’s economic ties strengthened throughout the past decade evident in its relationships with the European Union and nearby Asian countries and cities. One perfect example is the construction and launch of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB). Macau and Hong Kong have been connected by ferry for decades and this decade saw a new way of crossing the waters that divided both regions. Hailed as the longest bridge in the world, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, locally known as HZMB are key milestones in Macau’s development. Another crucial progress is the Macau Light Rapid Transit. The eco-friendly transportation mode made it possible for commuters to travel around the city with great convenience. Designed to be a low carbon emissions transport, the light rail is one of the most recent pieces of evidence of advancement in the metropolis.
Macau’s GDP Per Capita has also reached USD $79,975.263 (MOP $640,571) in 2019, compared with USD $52,379.655 (MOP $419,536) in 2010. In 2018, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that Macau would soon overtake Qatar as the richest place in the world in the near future. The assessment was based on the highest gross domestic product per person on a purchasing power parity basis.
Macau is dotted with modern architectural marvels. In the past five years alone, the city grew with spectacular skyscrapers that dominated the skyline. It’s impossible to miss the half-scale authentic recreation of the most romantic structure in the world, Macau’s Eiffel Tower sitting magnificently at The Parisian Macao‘s entrance. The mysterious and intriguing design of Morpheus is also a crowd attraction. Conceptualized by the brilliant mind of the late legendary architect Zaha Hadid, it has now become an iconic structure in Cotai. On the other hand, the glittering jewel-like facade of MGM Cotai is always a crowd-pleaser. Asia’s first adaptive and dynamic theater along with the world’s largest collections of sensory digital art on display, the Spectacle adds to the captivating charm of this hotel property. Wynn Palace also opened its doors offering visitors a view of fairytale land. From the eight-acre performance lake to Skycab gondolas and magnificent interiors, Macau really has it all when it comes to stunning architecture.
Creative City of Gastronomy
In 2017, Macau was recognized as a UNESCO-designated Creative City of Gastronomy. Home to a number of internationally renowned chefs and some of the world’s finest restaurants, the award was monumental. Not only was culinary excellence found in the huge and upscale properties but also in the streets of the city where creativity and sustainability intertwined. It championed local food, highlighted the city’s diverse culinary arena and strengthened its status as a foodie hub.
Macau also hosted the 2018 awards night for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Its impressive history and culture play background as the host city for the sixth and seventh editions of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. It led to an evening of elegance and exceptional food gathering the region’s most respected chefs, and influential restaurateurs, together with leading industry figures commending the crème de la crème of Asia’s culinary scene. The SAR is also home to Michelin-starred restaurants that continue to shine a light on the city’s beauty when it comes to food. Boasting 27 stars in total for a population of around 623,000 is pretty impressive.
Macau hit the Hollywood screen a few times over the last decade. In 2011, Rowan Atkinson shot several scenes outside the Hotel Lisboa and inside the Grand Lisboa for the comedy-action movie “Johnny English Reborn”. Coincidentally, another spy film with a more serious note also referenced Macau in 2012. The James Bond hit, starring Daniel Craig, featured scenes of the “Golden Dragon Casino” in Macau. While the clips of so-called Macau, were actually created and filmed at Pinewood Studios in the UK, it depicted Macau’s popularity as a destination in Asia. The sequel “Now You See Me 2” began shooting in Macau in 2015 where the Macao Science Center took the spotlight in a major scene of the film. The city continues to shine in the cinema as it thrives in economic, cultural and social growth in the last decade.
Home to the world’s largest water-based show, the House of Dancing Water, Macau has dominated the entertainment scene in Asia. The stage production written and directed by Franco Dragone has attracted visitors worldwide. It’s important to note that our city holds a few impressive feats when it comes to entertainment or even edutainment. MGM Cotai boasts a Guinness World Record for the Spectacle after its free-span self-supporting grid shell-glazed roof was recognized as the largest structure of its kind. In 2014, MGM China also achieved a Guinness World Record recognition for a 20-foot-long and 14-foot-wide dancing lion and the world’s most expensive cocktail sold for a staggering MOP $94,880 in 2014. Before that, Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Cotai Strip organized the record for most people opening bottles in a relay. While that record has now been broken, it was the buzz of the town in 2013. The highest resolution 3D planetarium in the world can also be found at our very own Macao Science Center. It uses 12 projectors to give an equivalent resolution of 8,000 x 8,000 pixels in 3D.
Macau’s achievement continues to grow and one we’re particularly proud of is Art Macao 2019. Considered to have been the biggest event of its kind in the history of Macau, it has certainly placed the city on the global art scene. Organized under the auspices of the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture, Art Macao was co-organized by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) and the Higher Education Bureau (DSES). The five-month art extravaganza cost MOP $34 million between the government and the casino and junket operators.
Even before Art Macao, our city has already promoted art by showcasing the works of highly-acclaimed artists from around the world throughout the decade. In 2014, the Macao Museum of Art facilitated the loan of paintings from four of France’s finest museums: Musée d’Orsay, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre. Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso’s artworks were some of the magnificent art displays. And last year, the exhibition “Italian Renaissance Drawings from the British Museum”, featured a total of 52 drawings by 42 Italian Renaissance masters, such as Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael, and Rosso Fiorentino. Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall were also among the notable artists with works that graced the city’s art scene.
Macau has also been the location of major sporting events in Asia from auto racing, football, basketball, MMA fights and more. In 2013, boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao fought Mexican-American Brandon Rios in what organizers said was the biggest professional boxing match ever held in China and Asia. Mariah Carey, Madonna, Bruno Mars, K-pop sensation BTS and other music giants also graced the Macau entertainment scene with sold-out concerts that drew revelers from all over the region. As the SAR continues to change and evolve, the past 10 years saw the city become more robust and resilient in times of triumph or even adversity as witnessed during the Typhoon Hato. No matter what the decade brings, Macau’s milestones are a great reminder of how far we’ve come as a city and its people.
And while we’re on the path of memory lane, our team also recalls the year Macau Lifestyle was first launched as Live Love Macau in 2016. After four years of strong readership and engagement, the digital magazine marks the new decade with more following and quality articles. Our page delivered more than 2,000 articles and around 1,176 event posts since its launch. Focused on tourists and local communities alike, Macau Lifestyle showcases unique and engaging content on events, dining, culture, travel, style, city guide listings, and people profiles. We value our readers and supporters and hope to continue our crusade until the next decade or more.