He started as a cook in the Michelin-starred Antonio Restaurant, and then quickly rose through the ranks to become head chef in just three years. “The opportunities are definitely better in Macau as many hotels, casinos and resorts have opened here,” said the 31-year-old.

Last year, he was the given the task of opening Paulaner Brahaus, a franchised German restaurant in the former Portuguese colony. Tavares was on track to open in late January when the Covid-19 outbreak in China brought tourism to a standstill, disrupting plans and pushing back the opening of the 150-seat outlet by nearly a year to December.

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Tavares’ predicament and those linked to the city’s tourism industry show that Macau’s reliance on gaming, tourism and affiliated services is hurting its economy as it accounted for 70 per cent of its revenues in the first eight months of this year.

Macau needs to move quickly to diversify its economy to provide new job opportunities and income sources for its growing population, especially in light of the havoc wrecked to its mainstay tourism industry by the coronavirus pandemic, say analysts and veteran businessmen.

Just before the Covid-19 pandemic derailed the city’s economy, Beijing announced a raft of policies in December last year aimed at diversifying Macau’s economy and forging closer integration with the Greater Bay Area by building its financial services industry, while maintaining its position as a leading gaming and tourism centre.

President Xi Jinping, during his three-day visit to Macau in December last year to mark the 20th anniversary of its return from Portuguese to Chinese rule, backed the city to develop into a service platform for commercial and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Xi