The next 20 years and further into the future: how will Macao change and develop?
The future looks bright for the Special Administrative Region of Macao. Already boasting the second highest GDP per capita in the world, as well as a strategic place in China’s grand plans for the Greater Bay Area, the city is expected to experience further growth and many changes in the decades to come.
But what do the experts reckon will happen? While they can’t quite predict whether there will be flying cars zooming across Macao’s skies, they can forecast how economically prosperous the city will become over the next 20 years and beyond and they can also look at how tourism will change in a metropolis where visitors already outnumber locals by at least 20 to one. Given Macao’s meteoric rise over the past couple of decades, can this great city become even greater?
Over the following pages in this special issue on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the SAR, different topics are discussed with a view, in part, to the past 20 years but with a real focus on what the future holds in store for the city. Topics include gastronomy, tourism, arts, the economy, the gaming industry and Macao’s relationships with Greater Bay Area cities and Portuguese-speaking countries. But before they have their say, it’s worth looking at the ‘greater picture’.
Back to the future
Historian and professor at the University of Macau, António Vasconcelos de Saldanha, says that it is impossible to look at the future of the SAR without seeing the ‘greater picture’. “I believe,” he says, “that the solution for some of the problems faced in the past will be found in the integration of Macao in the Greater Bay Area. I would go as far as to say that this integration could – and should – allow the city to streamline all of its resources to assist Mainland China in its regional development.”
The Greater Bay Area is, for some, one of the ‘great challenges of the 21st century’ for its member cities and regions. Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in the province of Guangdong, as well as the Macao and Hong Kong SARs, fall under the GBA, which has a total area of 56,000 square kilometres and contains more than 70 million people. This will be an unprecedented common market as far as Macao is concerned.
Macao’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ constitutional principle, which describes the governance of the SAR since 1999, allows it to take such an active part in the GBA. Ho Iat Seng, who becomes Macao’s fifth-term Chief Executive on December 20, has this year made references in interviews to his commitment to the principle and to the necessity of ensuring the ideal does not become ‘distorted’ in Macao. He has also stated he is confident to implement the principles of ‘Macao people governing Macao’ and the city having a high degree of autonomy – all concepts of major importance to the development of the SAR.
Journalist and local history author, João Guedes, says: “I believe that the greatest change still to come will be the integration of Macao into the GBA. This journey will bring changes at each stage. The effects of these changes will be more or less felt, depending on how Macao faces them. As of yet, however, there seems to be no great shadows on the horizon. Macao’s own geographical, demographic, economic and even cultural dimensions seem to be helping smooth the way.”
Housing and education
Chairman of the Industry and Commerce Association of Macau, Kevin Ho, has a positive vision of what the future holds, noting that ‘great strides were made over the past two decades’, particularly in education, for instance. He also says that the previous administrations have built a ‘great foundation’ on which the city is now able to ‘plant the future’ hand in hand with the ‘help of the central government’.
It is clear that people in Macao are now happier and more confident about the future. Solving the housing problem will allow them to feel more secure, especially the younger generations.
“In his official appointment ceremony speech,” says Ho, “soon-to-be Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng mentioned the most important aspect Macao has yet to resolve: housing. He clearly stated that the priority issue of the new government is specifically to speed up the construction of housing units in the New Landfill Zone.” Housing is being constructed in the new zone near the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge terminal.
“It is clear that people in Macao are now happier and more confident about the future,” continues Ho. “Solving the housing problem will