otal arrivals in the southern Chinese enclave reached 30.1 million last year, up 11.8 % from 2007, the government’s Statistics and Census Service said in a statement. Last year, arrivals surged almost 23 % from 2006.
Macau, the only place in China were casinos are legal, has seen its gambling industry cool recently after years of booming growth since Beijing began limiting the frequency and duration of travel here by mainland residents. The global financial and economic crisis also has taken a toll.
Despite the restrictions, visitor arrivals from mainland China increased by 17.7 % last year compared to 2008, the government said. In 2006, the tiny, former Portuguese colony less than one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C., surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s most lucrative gambling center.