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To be or not to be? Addressing the ethical void in Macao’s tourism and casino development

Glenn McCartney (University of Macau, Hengqin Island, Macau)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the level of ethics and codes of responsible behaviour in Macao’s casino tourism industry given its global leadership position in gaming, with suggestions on a way forward toward ethical tourism integration.


The research examined the corporate mission statements of Macao’s casino concessionaires with regards to social message content as well as social outcomes to date within Macao’s various tourism stakeholders. Relevant literature on cross-sector social partnership was examined as a possible consideration for Macao’s tourism industry.


Despite generating the world’s largest gaming revenues and tourism revenue contribution to gross domestic product, there are limited codes of ethics and an agreed level of acceptable behaviour and responsibility throughout Macao’s tourism and hospitality industry. This is further amplified by Macao’s small landmass, limited workforce pool, increasing tourism arrivals and a vast dependency on imports, creating a constant battle for resources and added pressure on its community and natural environment.

Social implications

There are possible conflicts between Western casino compliance issues within those of Chinese business cultural practices. It is suggested that greater appreciation of this cultural and community setting is required to realistically adopt ethical codes.


There has been limited discussion within Macao’s tourism industry on establishing a definition and scope for a code of ethics. Given the numbers participating and financial liquidity in Macao’s tourism system, the paper highlights the need for codes of ethics adoption, suggesting a cross-sector social partnership mechanism.



McCartney, G. (2015), "To be or not to be? Addressing the ethical void in Macao’s tourism and casino development", Tourism Review, Vol. 70 No. 2, pp. 150-162.



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