The Macau Government Tourist Office held a press conference and a lunch reception for the media on February 28 (Thursday). The Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Dr. Chui Sai On, attended the press conference and gave a speech. The Director of MGTO, João Manuel Costa Antunes, presented a summary on the work and the achievements of this entity over the past year and outlined the challenges and objectives for the year ahead at the conference.
The total visitor arrivals in Macau for 2001 reached a new record by exceeding 10,000,000, which can be seen as a remarkable achievement following its year 2000 numbers of over 9 million visitors. This proves that Macau was not affected negatively by the 911 tragedy, but has become a popular destination for neighboring regions whose travelers gave up long-haul tours.
Looking in retrospect, Macau not only received over 10,000,000 tourists last year, but has also seen an increase of the hotel occupancy rate. Dr. Chui noted that prolonging the length of stay of tourists and stimulating their spending in Macau would continue to be the crucial objectives of MGTO.
Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan are Macau’s 3 largest source markets. Since the beginning of this year, the relaxation of visa restrictions for Mainland visitors on HK-Macau tours has been implemented. Once the necessary procedures will have been completed, Macau can expect a sharp increase in the number of Mainland travelers. The tourism industry and the related trade should get ready for this opportunity. Macau should enhance its quality service at all levels of the tourism industry and related trades to present its hospitality to the tourists.
Mainland China continues to develop as a crucial market for Macau. It is vital for MGTO to strengthen the link with tourist entities as well as the tourism industry in Mainland China and to step up promotion in the major Mainland cities with a view to publicizing Macau to the citizens there. With the launching of the Office of the Government of the Macau SAR in Beijing, the tourism unit within the Office will start to operate. This tourism unit is expected to facilitate the communication with the Mainland tourism industry and to further develop and consolidate this crucial market.
The Taiwan market achieved a strong increase of 10%, with some 1.4 million arrivals last year. Many Taiwan people are followers of A-Ma and the A-Ma Cultural Village that is going to be established soon will attract more visits to Macau. In this year, MGTO will promote the cultural tourism of Macau, an action that ties in with the theme “Macau – City of Culture”.
Last year, the Tourists’ Assistance Unit has received fewer complaints than in the year 2000 and the amount involved was less. The unit also succeeded in refunding over 80% of the money involved to the tourists. The Legislative Council has amended the existing legislation in this field. By increasing the penalties and strengthening the interdepartmental cooperation, the Macau SAR is striving for measures to strike the frauds so as to protect the consumer rights of tourists and to consolidate the good image of Macau as tourism destination.
The overall budget of MGTO this year is MOP$186,392,800. This year, MGTO will allocate its resources in a more effective way so as to expand to a larger market source.
Apart from tourism promotion and market expansion, MGTO is going to try to increase the tourism knowledge of local residents, in particular how to be a good host. Because of this, MGTO has launched two umbrella campaigns, consisting of the “Macau Tourism Awareness Campaign” and the “Macau Welcomes You Passport Campaign”, under the large-scale “Macau Welcomes You Campaign”. Moreover, the “Macau Welcomes You Passport Campaign” has won the PATA Grand Award.
This year, the “Macau Tourism Awareness Campaign” is going to focus on strengthening the tourism knowledge of students, tourism industry personnel and certain local associations in terms of education. Various activities that pinpoint the three sectors will include a promotional film production contest, short-term training courses for tourism industry personnel, and the promotion of the image of pedicab drivers. On the other hand, a series of promotions through print and electronic media will be held.