Macau has received its record-breaking 20 millionth visitor for the year 2006.
On Sunday, Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) celebrated the new milestone with performances of Portuguese Folk Dance, Dragon and Lion Dance at six major tourism spots in Macau peninsula and Taipa island. In addition, Macau Tourism Ambassadors distributed give-aways to visitors during the day.
In the year 2000 and 2001, Macau's visitor arrivals experienced breakthroughs of 9 million and 10 million respectively. Seven years after the establishment of the Macau SAR, the number doubled to 20 million.
In the first ten months of 2006, visitor arrivals exceeded 17 million, an increase of 15.85 per cent compared to the same period last year. The top ten tourism market sources of Macau (in accordance with volume) are Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Korea, the United States, Singapore and Thailand. Mainland China, the largest source market, occupies nearly 54 per cent of total visitor arrivals; among which, half of the 9.7 million visitors are comprised of individual travelers. On the other hand, the increment of the other markets was also satisfactory.
Director João Manuel Costa Antunes of MGTO cited: "It is not easy for Macau, a tiny enclave with an area of only 28.2 sq. kilometers and a population slightly over 500 thousand to receive 20 million visitors a year. The outstanding result is fruitful of the great support of the Central Government, our Macau SAR leaders as well as the hard work both the travel and tourism industry and the public."
He continued: "In addition to the Historic Centre of Macau that exhibits Chinese and Western cultures, lifestyle and unique cuisine, the liberalization of the gaming industry attracted investments for world class tourism and MICE facilities to Macau. These led to high-speed growth and development of the tourism industry. In return, the multi-dimensional tourism development will motivate other industries." He added, "We see opportunities and challenges ahead of us. We must, therefore, have the initiative to improve, offer quality service to visitors and refine our tourism brand."
MGTO has been striving to provide diversified tourism products and quality service to satisfy the need of different markets. "The Historic Centre of Macau" inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List gave Macau a golden chance to reinforce a quality tourism brand, enabling visitors to learn of the history of Macau and to personally feel the mood of being present at the "Historic Centre of Macau".
Culture is closely related to tourism. As mentioned by Vice mayor of Guangdong Province, Tang Bingquan at the Guangdong International Tourism and Cultural Festival 2006, "Culture without tourism lacks vitality, while tourism without culture lacks charm."
MGTO launched a series of activities for "2006 Macau World Heritage Year", through different channels and format to actively promote Macau's world heritage. For instance, MGTO organized one of the largest groups of international media to visit Macau. The close to one hundred media from 13 countries/regions visited Macau's world heritage. On the other hand, people from different spectrums also formed familiarization groups to visit the heritage, among which included specialists, scholars, students, seniors, media and tourism stakeholders. Visitors from Japan are especially fond of Macau's world heritage and are interested in ecotourism. Therefore, world heritage visit is certainly included in their itineraries. Other related promotional activities included organizing Macau World Heritage Photo Exhibitions in Macau, mainland cities as well as overseas; placing advertisements and TV/radio commercials at local, regional and international media; using "World Heritage" as the theme for large-scale promotional events and at international travel fairs; and holding "Macau World Heritage Passport Campaign" etc.
Antunes pointed out: "Promotion of world heritage is a very meaningful and long term task, results cannot be easily seen in a short period of time. We will continue to promote to different peoples in various ways, to gradually uplift the fame and value of Macau's world heritage."
MGTO will retain "A World of Difference, The Difference is Macau" as promotional theme for Macau tourism, with emphasis on world heritage. At the same time, it will promote comprehensive tourism with multi-faceted elements: culture, convention & exhibition, gaming, retail, sport, leisure, gourmet, grand events and festivities.