The Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) held a press conference and a lunch reception for the media on January 5 (Monday). Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Dr. Chui Sai On, attended the press conference and delivered a speech. Director of MGTO, João Manuel Costa Antunes, presented a summary on the work and the achievements of the entity over the past year and outlined the objectives and strategies for the year ahead at the press conference.
The incident of SARS last year has severely hit the economies of many countries and regions, and the tourism sector, in particular, bore the brunt that is liable to have far-reaching consequences. With no exception, tourism industry of Macau also experienced a difficult period early last year.
In the wake of the stabilizing of the epidemic, MGTO timely launched a variety of tactical campaigns at source markets. With the support of the travel trade in Macau as well as the effort of different sectors of the society and the citizens, the total visitor arrivals in Macau for last year exceeded 11,900,000, a 3% growth compared to 2002. The number of Mainland visitors accounted for 48% of the total arrivals, showing a significant growth of 36%.
With the strong support from the Central Government, the further opening up of Mainland's tourism market has created favorable conditions for the continuous development of Macau's tourism industry. Following the implementation of 'Macau Tour' scheme in 2002, the individual visit scheme has been gradually launched in 14 cities of Guangdong province as well as Beijing and Shanghai since July 28 last year.
According to the official statistics, the arrivals from Mainland on individual visits surge steadily, with a total of over 600,000 arrivals from 28th July till December 31 last year. In October 2002, boosted by the National Day "Golden Week" holiday, the number of individual travelers exceeded 180,000. Later this year, the individual visit scheme will take effect in the whole Guangdong province.
The strong arrivals from Mainland shows that Mainland China has become a potential and a very important source market for Macau. In view of this, the Commission of Tourism Development will establish "Task Force on Tourism Consultation for Mainland Market" to collect views from the tourism sector to improve the work in providing quality services to the tourists and to focus on the planning of promotions in Mainland.
To strengthen the cooperation with the tourism departments in Mainland, the Macau SAR government and the China National Tourism Administration signed the 'Mainland and Macau Closer Tourism Cooperation Agreement' last month, signifying a closer cooperation between the Mainland and Macau in promotion of tourism development.
MGTO will continue to work closely with Guangdong province and Hong Kong to promote the regional tourism of Pearl River Delta through resource sharing to build a world tourism brand for the Pearl River Delta which will attract high yield tourists to the region. The three places will soon start the studies for the 2nd phase of the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Information Platform to further enhance the cooperation.
Meanwhile, MGTO will continue to consolidate and organize promotional activities in important source markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, North America, India, Thailand, the Philippines and so on.
To facilitate the preparation work for the coming up 2005 PATA Annual Conference to be held in Macau, an organizing committee will be set up with representatives from the travel trade.
The Macau SAR has established strategies to develop Macau as a tourism and gaming, as well as an international MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) and leisure destination. This year, Macau will continue to make effort to publicize the unique culture and leisure tourism of Macau.
With the full support from the Central Government, the "Historical Monuments of Macau" comprised of 12 monuments of the Macau SAR will apply for inclusion in the World Heritage list of UNESCO in 2005. Macau has undertaken a series of preparation work for the application to enhance the publicity of 'cultural tourism' feature of Macau.
For the tourism industry to achieve sustainable development, Macau should attach great importance to quality service. In view of this, MGTO will continue to support various training programs and activities, such as the 'Macau Tourism Awareness Campaign', to arouse the awareness of tourism employees and local residents on the significance of tourism and how to become a Tourism Ambassador.
It has always been the objective of the Macau SAR government in tourism aspect to prolong the visitors' length of stay. To be in line with the future development of tourism industry, MGTO will spare no effort to improve the tourism environment and facilities while developing new tourism products. More importantly, Macau will strive to protect the visitors' consumer rights through strengthening enforcement action and joint departmental cooperation to combat the irregularities. The amendment of the regulations related to the operations of travel agents and tour guides (D.L.48/98/M) is completed and the bill will soon be implemented after the relevant legislative procedure is completed.
In order to cope with the development of business tourism and the opening of the mainland market, the Macau SAR government has planned to restructure MGTO's organization. In particular, in the research area, tourism information and data collection will be enhanced. On the other hand, The Institute for Tourism Studies will be responsible for research projects in tourism aspects. The organization of MGTO will also be restructured with the objective to increase the effectiveness and efficiency and to stay ahead in the rapidly developing tourism industry.