Macau Food Festival Expected to Move Focus away from Gambling

Macau is preparing to highlight its diverse culinary scene, which ranges from street food to gourmet dining.

Macau goes for an interesting shift in focus from gambling to gastronomy.

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The city, recognized by the United Nations for its exceptional gastronomic offerings, is planning public events to showcase its rich food culture.

Many visitors come to Macau specifically for a unique dining experience. We see opportunities to collaborate with community groups and non-governmental organizations to create engaging events in smaller districts, allowing tourists to immerse themselves in local culture.

Maria Helena de Senna FernandesDirector of the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO)

The City of Gastronomy

Macau was named as a “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO in 2017, joining other Chinese cities such as Chengdu, Shunde, Chaozhou, Yangzhou, and Huaian.

This focus on culinary events aligns with the country’s broader strategy to diversify its economy beyond the well-known Macau gambling industry. Last year, Macau mandated its six casino operators to invest over 100 billion patacas (US$12.37 billion) in non-gambling attractions over the next ten years as part of their licensing agreements.

The operators are responding by constructing new venues for conventions, concerts, shows, and sports events and by developing health and community tourism initiatives.

Qin Changwei, Secretary General of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, has described the development of the creative gastronomy industry as “crucial for enhancing urban appeal and competitiveness”.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which promotes sustainable urban development through innovation and creativity, now includes 18 cities in China, spanning various fields such as craft and folk art, design, film, and gastronomy.

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The International Cities of Gastronomy Fest Macau

The International Cities of Gastronomy Fest Macau, which started on June 14 and runs until June 23, features a range of activities including the International Gastronomy Forum, an event that resumed this year after a hiatus since 2019 due to the pandemic.

Fernandes also spoke of a shift in post-pandemic travel trends, with fewer group tours and a younger demographic of visitors. She explained that today’s visitors look for more “personalized and unique experiences” with the younger generation particularly keen on exploring beyond the tourist spots. She added that gastronomy is an important part of the Macau experience, and it helps strengthen the city’s status as a global metropolis.


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