One of the best guides to the huge economic transformation that has taken place in China in recent decades is Shaun Rein’s The End of Cheap China. I’d agree with commentators who say it is compulsory reading for anyone wanting to do business in China or wanting to understand the contemporary Chinese economy. As I was exploring the Venetian Macao casino resort complex earlier this week, it was easy to see examples that would support one of Mr Rein’s main messages: that middle class Chinese consumers don’t see themselves as middle class, but rather as on the way to being rich, and their aspirations are reflected in their demands for luxury products – of which there is a dazzling array at the Venetian Macao.
The over-the-top brilliance in casino and resort operations that is the Venetian Macao – the world’s largest casino – also made me wonder about the business cases for the proposed new casino-resort complexes in Brisbane and Cairns. The project proponents must be incredibly confident in the quality of their proposed offerings, because I expect it will be hard to lure wealthy Chinese gamblers away from Macau, which offers a number of high quality casino resorts and is much closer for Chinese gamblers. The attraction of other destinations in Queensland, such as the Reef and beaches, must be an important factor in the business cases for the proposed Queensland casino resorts. The successful casino-resort proponents will need to work closely with regional tourism bodies to ensure the local product offering is at the quality required to help lure the wealthy guests they will need to make their casino resorts viable.