Visitors on the eight casino boats which leave Hong Kong to sail into international waters each night have risen by 9 percent to 615,328 in the first half of this year.
Operated by companies such as Success Universe Group Limited and Genting Hong Kong Limited, the ships are leased to junket operators and offer an attractive alternative to mainland tourists since they are not required to have a separate visa to board the boats once they are in Hong Kong. They are also significantly cheaper than a hotel room in Macau and convenient for those who may have little time or wish to stay under the radar. Another bonus for the operators is that they pay no tax on revenues, compared with the 39 percent they are required to pay in Macau. Casino operators in Macau say they are not concerned by the competition posed by the Hong Kong cruise ships since there is no dining or shopping available, so revenues pale into insignificance with Macau’s properties.