As a new year comes around and everything looks fresh and cheerful, Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) wishes all citizens and visitors good health and prosperity, and that the tourism industry of Macau would scale new heights in the Year of the Rat.
MGTO and Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) join hands to organize celebratory activities on the first day of Lunar New Year (Feb 7) at the Ruins of St. Paul's and Senado Square to mark the spring festival and add a festive atmosphere to the city.
MGTO launched the 24-hour "Macau Tourist Hotline 2833 3000" on 6 February in which the in-coming calls will be attended by the operator. To be in line with the trend and development of the tourism industry, MGTO especially prolongs the service hours of the "Hotline" to strengthen the services for tourists' enquiries which used to operate from 08:00 till 24:00 since 2003.
MGTO has also published pamphlets providing travel tips for visitors to Macau to be distributed at MGTO's Information Counters, Immigration Counters at the Checkpoints as well as Macau Consumer Council. Aside from that, Association of Macau Tourist Agents, Macau Travel Agency Association, Travel Industry Council of Macau, Macau Tourist Guide Association and Air Macau also help to deliver the pamphlets to their members for distribution.
Macau's tourism industry achieved a rapid growth in 2007, and total visitor arrivals scored a new high of almost 27 million, an increase of 22% compared with 2006.
MGTO has been promoting Macau's unique multi-cultural characteristics through various activities. Lunar New Year is an important festival in the Chinese society and also a peak season for visitors to experience the traditional celebrations in Macau. MGTO and IACM take this opportunity to express New Year greetings to the citizens and hospitality to the visitors.
On the first morning of Lunar New Year, Director of MGTO João Manuel Costa Antunes, President of IACM, Mr. Raymond Tam Deputy Directors of MGTO Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes and Manuel Gonçalves Pires Júnior hosted the eye-dotting ceremony of the golden dragon and lions at the Ruins of St. Paul's and lit firecrackers at Senado Square to mark the celebrations. Guests and officials from MGTO, teamed up with the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, the Gold of Fortune and the Gods of Happiness, Prosperity, and Longevity, greeted the public and distributed "Lai Si" (red packets with lucky money) and souvenirs to residents and visitors. The crowd also enjoyed lively performance by the folkloric art troupe from the Guizhou province
The vibrant dragon and lion dances signal Macau to be as energetic and spirited as these noble beasts and "Lai Si" distributed by the God of Fortune bestow good luck and fortune for the Year of Rat.
The Lunar New Year celebrations are held on the first and second day of the Lunar New Year. Details of the activities are available on the website of MGTO http://www.macautourism.gov.mo.
In keeping with tradition, lucky "Lai Si" will be distributed at MGTO counters during Lunar New Year. Each packet contains a 20-cent coin as a symbol of MGTO's wishes for good luck and prosperity throughout the year.
On Lunar New Year's Eve, MGTO staged a splendid "fireworks display duet" set off from barges anchored in waters just off the Macau Tower to usher in the Year of Rat. Thousands of citizens and visitors gathered at the waterfront for the magnificent spectacle.