Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macau SAR Government Dr. Chui Sai On presided at the opening ceremony of the MGTO Annual Marketing Meeting and Macau Tourism Forum held today (June 29) at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center. Director of Macau Government Tourist Office, João Manuel Costa Antunes reviewed last year's tourism performance in Macau and outlined future marketing strategies to tourism industry participants and MGTO's 38 representatives from 17 countries and regions at the Marketing Meeting.
Speaking at the Marketing Meeting, Secretary for Social Affairs & Culture Chui Sai On noted that with the great support from the Central Government and the clear strategies of the Macau SAR Government in the past five years, Macau has been able to achieve very encouraging economic growth and social stability. Macau has also set its objectives to develop into a tourism, gaming, MICE and leisure hub.
He acknowledged the presence of the new MGTO representatives in Los Angeles, New York and Paris, and he believed that, under the guidance of the Marketing Division at the MGTO Headquarters, the representatives from overseas would assist MGTO in carrying out the tourism policy set out by the Macau SAR Government, while at the same time, promote Macau and maintain its international profile of visitors.
He said that the further opening up of the Mainland's tourism markets had created favorable conditions for the continuous growth of Macau's tourism industry. Last year, the tourism industry of Macau achieved remarkable growth. Visitor arrivals exceeded 16.67 million, an increase of 40% over 2003. Among the total visitor arrivals, 9.5 million were Mainland visitors, who accounted for 57% of total visitor arrivals, a significant growth of 66%. Other source markets also performed strongly and many achieved significant growth, including Hong Kong, Taiwan China, Japan, the United States, the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.
Chui Sai On expressed that to be an international destination, Macau has to maintain a balanced market structure and continue to explore more potential source markets. Conscious of the world trend to develop regional tourism, Macau is fostering closer cooperation within the Pearl River Delta and the Pan-PRD regions to enhance the combined competitive advantage by resource sharing and joint promotions.
In order to keep up with the growing competition and challenge, Chui stressed that it is essential and important to increase the range of Macau's tourist attractions. In the coming few years, a number of tourism facilities and cultural attractions will be opened to the public and are expected to attract more visitors and encourage a longer stay in Macau.
"Apart from new tourism products, we must also showcase our unique tourism characteristics. The successful listing of the "Historic Monuments of Macau" on the UNESCO World Heritage List will further enhance Macau's image as a cultural destination, and also increase the worldwide exposure of its unique mix of Chinese and Portuguese cultures," he added.
He also pointed out that Macau is determined to develop the MICE industry and is working towards this aim by actively promoting Macau to international event organisers. The successful hosting of the 54th PATA Annual Conference and the 2005 JCI ASPAC Conference this year proved that Macau is capable of organising international conferences. The upcoming 4th East Asian Games in October will be another opportunity for Macau to express itself to the world and to uplift its profile in the international arena.
The liberalisation of the gaming industry has introduced a brand new era to the gaming and tourism industry of Macau. All these developments will bring not only great opportunities but also various challenges. Macau has to constantly upgrade and enhance its service quality in the face of a large number of visitor arrivals.
In his presentation of the tourism situation, MGTO Director João Manuel Costa Antunes said that the Macau tourism industry has made a strong start in 2005 with arrivals of close to 7.5 million in the first 5 months, a remarkable growth of 16.4% over the same period of last year.
He noted that the importance of the East Asian region has shifted from 96.3% last year to 95.6% this year, signifying a gradual increase of visitors from source markets in other geographical regions.
Antunes said that 50% of all visitors stayed one night or longer last year, and though the share of over-night visitors dropped to 47% for the first 5 months of 2005, in real number terms, it was still 10% up compared with the same period in 2004.
He added that hotel occupancy across hotel and similar establishments in Macau was 72.2% in the first 5 months of 2005, which fell by 5.51 percentage points compared with same period of 2004. The decline was largely due to a 20.7% increase in the supply of hotel rooms, in addition to an increase of the average room rate, while visitors tend to avoid the perceived congestion of the "Golden Week" periods and public holidays.
Antunes also commented that individual visitors from Mainland also showed strong growth. Last year individual visitors accounted for 37% of total Mainland visitors. The ratio has grown to 51% in the first 5 months of this year. The "Individual Visitor Scheme" has caused a shift in visitors' travel pattern and led to a drop in package tours, especially those from the Guangdong region.
He stressed that MGTO remains committed to achieving a balanced portfolio of visitors and will continue to expand and explore potential markets. "We are studying potential markets such as India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Macau should identify the direction our market is heading to and strive to excel in the 4 Ps, Place, Product, Price and Promotion," Antunes explained
He continued that Macau is located at a strategic position within the Pearl River Delta. In recent years, the introduction of low cost carriers has enhanced accessibility to Macau and further facilitated the tourism of Macau. The city's distinctive cultural heritage, together with new tourism facilities and attractions, as well as world-class themed hotels to be opened, are expected to attract more visitors and encourage a longer stay in Macau. It is necessary for Macau to build a brand of quality to ensure it is a value-for-money destination to entice quality visitors, and this will not be possible without a strong cooperation between government and private sectors in promoting the image of Macau as an enchanting destination.
MGTO also invited representatives from governmental departments, event organizers, gaming operators, airlines and theme park operators to give the latest updates on the development of their projects in the "Macau Tourism Forum", where MGTO's representatives around the world, travel trade and media learned more about the new developments in Macau which will enhance the promotion of the tourism industry.