The Tourism Development Committee (CDT, on its Portuguese acronym) convened the first Plenary Meeting of 2020 today (19 May). Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture and Committee Chairperson, Ao Ieong U, presided over the meeting and listened to various members’ perspectives on Macao’s tourism situation and the tourism recovery plan.
Secretary Ao Ieong U indicated that owing to the impact of the pandemic, visitor arrivals registered a drastic year-on-year fall in the first four months of 2020. MGTO has discussed with local hotels, travel agencies, airlines, ferry operators and so forth on the proposed scheme of tourism recovery. While Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) will be brought under the tutelage of the Secretariat for Economy and Finance, tourism is still closely linked with the fields of culture and sports. She hopes that Macao can attract more visitations by the launch of in-depth tours and mega sport events in the future. She expressed sincere gratitude to the tourism trade for their assistance and coordination regarding provision of hotel venues for medical observation during the pandemic.
During the meeting, MGTO reported on the latest tourism situation in Macao. As the pandemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia continues, visitor arrivals in Macao has trended downward considerably. The hotel industry was much affected as well. The average occupancy rate remains low for local hotels.
MGTO also introduced the plan on reviving Macao’s tourism industry. The plan will be conducted at three stages: at the first stage, the Office will activate a scheme to support advanced promotions carried out by local trade or conducted overseas; at the second stage, in accord with the course of the pandemic, the Office will unfold promotional measures and provide free half-day tours for overnight visitors after border control measures are lifted in some regions; at the third stage, the Office will formulate recovery schemes in accord with the progress of recovery in international markets, providing preferential measures for transportation networks such as airline, ferry and border-crossing bus, etc. The Office added that besides the tourism recovery plan at the three stages mentioned as above, MGTO is currently discussing with the local trade on development of local tours and Hengqin tours to help stimulate the economy.
Many CDT members expressed consent on the tourism recovery plan. They also expressed concern about resumption of visitations to Macao and visitor flows across the Greater Bay Area, industry training, local tours and Hengqin tours, among other topics. A member was concerned that if the pandemic becomes a new normal in the future, the Government should make advanced planning on implementation of effective border measures; under the influence of the pandemic and the economy spiraling downward, safety remains the top priority amid initiatives to revive the tourism industry, while preferential measures come next. A member also agreed with the plan to promote local tours among residents in Macao as it will raise public awareness about the city’s tourism resources. MGTO pointed out that by launch of local tours for residents in Macao, the local trade can be encouraged to develop local tourism products with more fresh elements, which not just may attract locals but also can be promoted among visitors in the future.
Secretary Ao Ieong U thanked CDT members for their opinions. She stated that Macao maintains close communication with Guangdong Province and mutual recognition of health codes is currently operated between both destinations. She encouraged local industry operators to get prepared for welcoming visitors again in the future.
CDT members and participants who expressed their opinions during the meeting include (in order of speaking): Tong Kai Chung, Cheong Chi Man, Wong Fai, Sio Un I, Melinda Chan, Lo Wang Chun, Linda Chen, Fang Liqun, Ma Kin Cheong, Wilfred Wong and Kong Mei Fan.