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Zaia demise ‘growing pains' for leisure sector

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Despite Sands’ high expectations for ZAIA, Cirque du Soleil’s first resident show in Asia will close doors next week. Macau remains a gaming city with little room for high-end entertainment, a Cirque du Soleil spokesperson admitted.
Yet the closure of ZAIA “should not be seen as an indicator of the long-term viability of live entertainment in Macau,” Galaviz & Company managing director Jonathan Galaviz told Macau Daily Times.
“Certain shows may close for a myriad of reasons, including the possibilities of poor marketing or lackluster production design,” he added.
David Green agrees: “It was a one-off decision. That particular show didn’t play to its market, it was a transplant from a Western market.” The managing partner of Newpage Consulting recalled the success of show House of Dancing Water, which “was developed from the ground up as a concept”.
“Many shows have closed in Las Vegas over the last 40 years and they are almost always replaced by shows that consumers respond better to,” Galaviz recalled.
Green is confident rival operators will not be frightened off live entertainment by ZAIA closure but believes they “will learn from what might have been done wrongly”.
“Live entertainment will be a long-term learning process for the casino operators in Macau, and with time, I am sure they will mostly get it right,” said Galaviz. “Macau is still in its infancy in its development as a world-class tourism destination.”
Big-money shows like Zaia will have wait until the convention and exhibition sector starts growing, Green added. “Until there are large conventions with people staying three, four nights in Macau, shows will struggle.”
“The entertainment market has not developed at all the way our partner down there [Sands China] had anticipated,” a Cirque du Soleil spokesperson, Renée-Claude Ménard, told Québec website Canoë.
“Macau remains a region almost exclusively dominated by the gaming market. A bit like Las Vegas 20 years ago. Sands’ bet was to transform this universe with an offer of quality entertainment together with an offer of restaurants and shops that could help reverse this ratio,” she said.
“Unfortunately the casino costumers go there solely to gamble,” Ménard added.
“We knew the market was not shifting from ‘gaming only’ to ‘destination’ market,” she told Montreal Gazette. “So we knew it would become an issue at some point in time.”
ZAIA currently has 77 artists but Ménard is confident they will quickly be relocated any of the other 21 shows Cirque du Soleil has all over the world. On the other hand 15 local employees will be lose their job.

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