Gaming shouldn’t be sole focus: urban planners

Thursday, June 26, 2008
Issue 386, Page 1 & 4
Word count: 632
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau’s urban planning should not only focus on gaming as it solely will not contribute a healthy and sustainable development in the region, said mainland experts at a conference in Macau yesterday.

The Research Centre for Sustainable Development Strategies organised the third expert conference yesterday at Wynn Macau where professional bodies and individuals from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau were invited to discuss the “Macau Urban Planning Conceptual Framework”.

According to director of the research centre, Dr Daniel Tse Chi-wai, the conceptual framework will be launched for public consultation between July and September, and it is hoped that the results can be submitted to the Chief Executive by the end of October which will serve as a reference for his 2009 policy address.

Chief planner of the Guangzhou Urban Planning and Design Survey Research Institute, Wang Guoen, told reporters that the “prime problem” for Macau to develop urban planning is its lack of land resources.

Mr Wang said in order to cope with the problem, a regional cooperation with Zhuhai and other Pearl River Delta regions will be the “only way out”.

“A cooperation between Macau and Zhuhai is quite promising to obtain a win-win situation as Zhuhai is also looking for a partner for further city development,” Mr Wang said, “The cooperation will be a breakthrough as well as a valuable opportunity for Macau.”

But he pointed out that a transport system between the regions and Macau’s internal traffic network should be developed and improved before an effective cooperation can be guaranteed.

The expert from Guangzhou said apart from expanding the existing tourism sector, the SAR should try to develop convention and exhibition as well as business tourism so as to support the future growth of the region.

“And also by developing itself into a culturally diversified city and an enjoyable place to live, Macau can then become a truly world renowned city,” Mr Wang said.

Although Macau’s gaming industry is “famous” around the world, Mr Wang said it could be affected by external factors which make the industry “unpredictable” at times.

“I think Macau has the potential to develop a high-end manufacturing industry which requires a stable and solid foundation and thus sets off some of the risks imposed by the gaming sector,” he added.

And deputy director of the Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute, Liang Wei, agreed with his counterpart’s advice for Macau.

“Land resources shortage isn’t a problem only in Macau but worldwide because most of the land will be used for boosting the economy which is usually a priority for a nation,” Mr Liang said.

However, Mr Liang refused to comment on whether the SAR government has reserved too much land for casinos construction, citing he did not have any statistics to support such claims.

“It’s always a debate between locals and businessmen and I think we need a balance in between,” the Beijing expert told the Macau Daily Times.

“Residents want more land to be given for building public housing or green areas, while businessmen may argue their development will bring in more taxes to the government which in return support the city’s growth,” he added.

Mr Liang said gaming is only “one of the elements” needed for a successful tourism industry and solely on its own “certainly won’t guarantee a long term and healthy development of the city.”

“Macau should concentrate on developing their strengths which are gaming and tourism industries and at the same time, to maintain a sustainable growth, the SAR should be able to offer more diversified leisure and entertainment options to visitors,” he added.

Mr Liang said cultural heritage is a strong and special area Macau can put more focus on and he believes the UNESCO listed sites will be able to attract tourists flooding into the SAR.


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