Regarding the recent report of a tour guide association about alleged tour groups from the Mainland, our Office would like to reply as follows:
According to a tour guide association’s report, the Border Gate Square has lately been frequented by flocks of Mainland residents who, upon arrival in Macao, took the free shuttle buses provided by gaming enterprises to reach their destinations together with their escorts. People in such groups usually wore the same kind of cap or outfit, while their escorts normally held a small flag or accessory for easy identification when they gathered or dismissed their groups. Considering that these groups were not received by any local ground receiving agent or licensed tour guide, members of the local trade have raised concerns about whether these groups were properly received by local licensed tour guides in accordance with the law of the Macao SAR.
Concerning such phenomenon, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has carried out more frequent and rigorous inspections at different ports of entry and tourist attractions, in addition to more scrupulous joint inspections with the Public Security Police Force and Labour Affairs Bureau, to ensure group tours are lawfully operated in Macao. Very soon, MGTO will convene a meeting with Mainland tourism authorities to tackle the issue.
Following an analysis of the information gathered during inspections, MGTO discovered that some of the aforementioned groups of Mainland residents were arranged to visit Macao by Mainland travel agencies, but more often by different enterprises or community organizations. Commonly, they did not tour around Macao on a specific itinerary. Nor did they lodge in the Macao SAR. Instead, they mainly enjoyed the free shuttle bus service provided by gaming enterprises to reach their destinations. After they finished their sightseeing or shopping activities, they would return to the port of entry on the same route, before the groups were gathered and dismissed.
During their short stay in Macao, the aforementioned groups mainly enjoyed free-time activities, sightseeing, photo-taking and shopping. No tour guiding service appeared to be provided for them.
It is worth noting that with the advance of the Internet, travel information can be conveniently acquired. The traditional model of group touring has hence evolved. In truth, the law of the Macao SAR stipulates that tour groups must be escorted by tour guides. However, group travel is not defined by the number of people. In other words, lawmakers did not set the number of people coming to Macao as one of the criteria for the necessity of being escorted by a tour guide. In practical operation, MGTO will thoroughly consider the collected information with a comprehensive assessment, to conclude whether the activities carried out by the aforementioned groups in Macao infringed the regulations of the Macao SAR on operation of travel agencies and tour guides.
Even though the above groups resemble common tour groups in appearance, their riding of shuttle buses freely provided by gaming enterprises to hotels and casinos upon their arrival in Macao did not infringe the regulations of the Macao SAR on operation of travel agencies and tour guides.
As a supervisory entity, MGTO is highly concerned about this situation reported by the tour guide association. The Office will maintain regular communication and exchange of information with Mainland tourism authorities, while delegating staff to patrol ports of entry and tourist attractions in Macao regularly, besides carrying out random inspections on tour groups. On discovering any alleged irregularities against the law of the Macao SAR, the Office will carry out investigations and evidence collection. Once discovering that any visitor works as a tour guide in Macao, MGTO will wage sanctions in accordance with the law of the Macao SAR and report the case to Mainland tourism authorities.
With regard to postponing the 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest, our Office would like to reply as follows:
After taking into consideration the weather forecast of Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau with regard to the impact of typhoon “Mangkhut”, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced on 12 September that the third night of fireworks displays (by French and Portuguese teams) originally scheduled for 15 September in the 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest would be rescheduled to another date. Because of the urgent situation, the pertinent fireworks products were immediately transported to one of the government explosives depots in Hong Kong for temporary storage.
After all the typhoon signals were cancelled at 6 p.m. on 17 September, MGTO immediately assessed the technical conditions required for resumption of the Contest, and on 18 September, announced the latest Contest schedule via different means including website, press release and media commercial.
In organizing mega events, MGTO always regards the safety of the public and participants as a top priority. As fireworks products are a type of highly hazardous chemicals, it is necessary to undergo an array of inspections and customs clearance procedures when fireworks products and barges (from which fireworks are fired) are rearranged for transport to Macao. It then involves a potentially-hazardous procedure to install fireworks products. The whole process must be conducted in accordance with safety standards and under the on-site scrutiny of technical consultants for pyrotechnics to ensure both the quality and safety. According to previous experience, the entire series of procedures normally requires a total of four days to complete.
As the fireworks displays by the French and Portuguese teams were rescheduled to take place on the night of 21 September, the installation procedures for the fourth night (originally on 24 September) of fireworks displays by the German and Austrian teams could only start on 22 September. After conferring with technical consultants for pyrotechnics, in order to ensure fairness in the Contest and provide sufficient time for every team to complete their fireworks installation under safe conditions, the fourth night of fireworks displays were therefore postponed for one day to be held on 25 September.
In the future, efforts will be devoted for enhancements at technical level and on sudden notice information dissemination. MGTO will reevaluate better possible solutions and optimize the completion of technical procedures, striving to keep the Contest schedule from being affected. In addition, the Office will optimize the sudden notice information dissemination system and deliver the news to visitors via a wider range of channels and use of rolling information tools.
Regarding public concern on the progress of maritime sightseeing projects in Macao, our Office would like to reply as follows:
Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has embraced a proactive approach in pushing forward development of maritime tourism products. In the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan, MGTO has laid out short-term action plans to support maritime sightseeing projects in the making. In line with the direction to develop maritime tourism products, MGTO has brought forth the initiative of maritime sightseeing in Macao. In specific actions, the Office has been following up the project and coordinating with different departments concerned to bolster industry operators in their launch of related tourism products.
So far, there are local businesses interested in taking the initiative to invest on operation of water sightseeing tours around Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Coloane. With regard to this, MGTO has held a number of interdepartmental work meetings to discuss and coordinate subsequent arrangements for berth locations, port facilities, supporting provisions and sea routes, etc. according to the practical situation and actual progress. At this stage, the authorities concerned have proffered their technical opinions and suggestions in their specific fields, and followed up with inspections of the berths.
MGTO will forge ahead to coordinate and follow up the project in an active manner, in addition to holding regular meetings with related departments and industry partners in full support of development of maritime tourism products. The Office is also committed to assisting in promoting and publicizing the products after their launch. The above efforts are in line with the SAR Government’s endeavors to transform Macao into a world centre of tourism and leisure.
With regard to enhancement of professional development for tour guides, our Office would like to reply as follows:
The draft and legislative process of the proposed law on regulating operation of travel agencies and tour guides is conducted under the SAR Government’s centralized system of legislation. According to the work plan, we strive to prepare the proposed law for submission within 2018 to the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly for relevant discussions, the exact date of which will be scheduled by the departments concerned.
The existing and proposed laws on regulating the operation of travel agencies and tour guides in Macao do not stipulate any ranking assessment and accreditation of tour guide service. Owing to the nature and variety of tour guide service provided for visitors, any ranking assessment of tour guide service stipulated by the law will fall into an inflexible system far from effective. On the contrary, industry associations may design and carry out their own assessments on tour guide service.
To support tourism industry professionals to keep optimizing their service, enhancing their competitiveness and reaching new levels of career development, MGTO has organized an array of professional training courses, workshops and seminars for frontline personnel and tour guides in the industry every year since 2013, covering various topics such as service mentality, service skills and crisis management. Below is the range of courses held in the past few years: workshops for tour guides on techniques in handling dissatisfied customers in 2013; the large-scale Crisis Management Seminar (key speaker: Terence K L Wong) and “Customer Service and Work Ethics” Workshop in 2014; “International Business Etiquette and Professional Image” Seminar (key speaker: Mary Cheung), Islamic Culture in Tourism Workshops and “Crisis Prevention and Crisis Management” Workshop for tour guides in 2015; Introductory-level Korean Courses for Tour Guides, Frontline Service Attitude Workshop and Risk & Crisis Management Workshop in 2016; Intermediate-level Korean Course for Tour Guides, Personality Assessment Workshops and Stress & Emotion Management Workshops respectively in 2017, as well as the “Say Goodbye to Public Relations Disaster” Seminar (key speaker: Akina Fong) in 2018. Workshops about communication skills and crisis management will also come up in the second half of 2018. Furthermore, MGTO has held the City & Guilds “International Introductory Award in Conflict Handling” Course as well as a range of workshops about tour escort service, effective supervisory management of travel agencies and skills of dealing with demanding customers.
In the future, MGTO will maintain regular communication with industry operators to stay updated about the types of industry training in demand.
In reply to public opinions on the project of transforming the waterfront area of Nam Van Lake into a unique leisure hub, our Office would like to reply as follows:
Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC), Sports Bureau (ID) and the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) have joined hands to transform the waterfront area of Nam Van Lake into “Anim’Arte Nam Van” –- a leisure hub replete with unique local colors and a variety of experiences to offer for residents and visitors, ranging from water recreational facilities, culinary delights to cultural and creative products for sale. The project has enriched the spectrum of cultural and tourism elements Macao has to offer.
“Anim’Arte Nam Van” encompasses four retail spaces for cultural and creative shops. Under public calls for tenders, local citizens and merchants interested in building up their cultural and creative businesses were welcome to submit their tenders. Equal opportunity was given for all to participate in this fair and open procedure to tender for the contracts to start a cultural and creative business at “Anim’Arte Nam Van”. The spaces were leased without minimum price setting and not provided for free. Bidders were required to map out a scrupulous estimation of their cultural and creative projects in terms of feasibility, operating cost, balance between revenue and expenditure as well as risk assessment. Business operators must also fulfill the requirements and obligations on their utilization of the spaces as stipulated in the tender documents and contracts, under strict supervision of the SAR Government. Owing to the high cost and risk as well as a long payback period for operation of a cultural and creative business, the SAR Government adopted the approach to bolster such businesses through policy implementation, in particular with the initiative to provide key spaces for cultural and creative business development by opting for quality choices. The initiative not only bolsters medium, small and micro cultural and creative businesses, but also helps to lower their operating cost and nurture outstanding cultural and creative projects in Macao.
Public tenders are also invited for the lease of seven spaces for operation of catering outlets and food and beverage retail outlets at “Anim’Arte Nam Van”. With the minimum rent set as the bottom price, the final price is confirmed by bidders in their tenders. All eligible local enterprises and individuals can submit tenders for these spaces. IFT once operated a café there as a training venue for students, with the objective of cultivating remarkable professionals for the catering and service industries.
Considering the above, it is not suitable to draw a direct analogy between the spaces at “Anim’Arte Nam Van” and commercial spaces in the rental market in terms of their use, nature and purposes.
With regard to enhancement of the Master Plan and implementation of action plans for regional cooperation, our Office would like to reply as follows:
Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) completed and released the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan (“Master Plan”) to the public in 2017. The Master Plan proposed a range of action plans with regard to regional cooperation, e.g. jointly develop tourism products and island tours with neighboring cities, step up yacht tourism development and develop potential projects into bi-city events, among others.
To implement the action plans for regional cooperation and support the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development, MGTO joined the Tourism Federation of Cities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Bay Area before the end of 2017. MGTO has also been closely collaborating with its counterparts from other destinations to forge themed travel itineraries and products for international visitors through the cooperative schemes for Guangdong-Macao, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao as well as Fujian-Macao. Riding on the opportunities brought by the latest two editions of the Macao International Travel (Industry) Expo, MGTO invited industry delegates from Portugal, the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan Region to Macao as well as other Guangdong cities in the Bay Area and Xiamen, Fujian for multi-destination site visits. The Office is also planning to arrange another inspection visit to Guangdong for members of the Australian travel trade and the Tourism Development Committee (CDT) in the third quarter of 2018. In addition, MGTO has been cooperating with regional partners for years to hold mega collaborative promotions in countries along the Belt and Road and other shared visitor source markets. Among them, MGTO joined hands with the tourism departments of Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Hong Kong to roll out a series of tourism promotions in Indonesia and Malaysia in 2017, including the Macao & Guangdong･Guangxi･Fujian･Hong Kong Tourism Presentation in Indonesia. In April 2018, MGTO partnered with the Fujian Provincial Tourism Development Commission to stage the Fujian & Macao “The Maritime Silk Road” Destinations Promotion and Dinner in Melbourne and Sydney, encouraging visitations to Fujian and Macao in one trip and expanding the variety of their source markets. After the above promotions were staged, an array of multi-destination tourism products covering Guangdong-Macao and Fujian-Macao were successively launched in different source markets.
With regard to extension of the “Quality Tourism Services Accreditation Scheme” (QTSAS) to the sector of tour guides, MGTO has conducted preliminary research as well. Although it is technically feasible to assess tour guide services, divergent views remain in the sector at present. Before a wide consensus is reached, it will be a constraint that limits the enthusiasm of tour guides towards the Scheme and the degree of recognition for the accolades in the sector. While it would be relatively challenging to extend the Scheme to the sector of tour guides in the near future, MGTO will continue to actively engage in dialogues with industry delegates to gain wider support in the sector in order to carry out the Scheme in a progressively wider scope.
To promote industry training and help tourism industry personnel (including tour guides and personnel working in travel agencies, hotels and catering industry) to gain mastery at work for continuous optimization of service and obtainment of local, regional and international accreditations in related professions, MGTO holds an array of professional training courses, workshops and seminars every year with local institutes of tertiary education, travel trade, industry associations and training entities, covering different aspects such as language (English and Korea), tour escort service, crisis and risk management, mediation skills and conflict handling, among other topics.
In response to the ever-changing surroundings and tourism development in the days ahead, MGTO will regularly assess the implementation of different action plans according to the assessment systems prescribed by the Master Plan, in line with the progress of building the city into a world centre of tourism and leisure.
Regarding continuous actions to fight against provision of illegal accommodation, our Office would like to reply as below:
According to the Law No. 3/2010 on "Prohibition of Providing Illegal Accommodation", Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) takes action to crack down on provision of illegal accommodation. We receive reports from residents and visitors via a number of channels, including the 24-hour tourism hotline, online complaint platform, office phone and email, etc. Besides, different government entities would also provide us with reports about any alleged provision of illegal accommodation. Upon learning about any irregularity against the aforementioned law, we will immediately begin an investigation and pay a return visit to the complainant if feasible.
Under general circumstances, MGTO carries out up to 20 collaborative actions monthly to combat illegal accommodation. As illegal accommodations commonly involve other crimes, the support of police authorities in sending police officers to join inspections each time is required. During peak periods like the Golden Week holidays, the frequency and intensity of inspections would be increased.
Besides regular inspections, the police authorities would immediately inform MGTO to tackle the situation on site if they discover any signs of illegal accommodation during their operations. For this, MGTO inspectors stand by round the clock to handle respective irregularities.
With regard to each report on illegal accommodation, MGTO is required to carry out a comprehensive and all-rounded analysis about all facts that are involved according to the provisions of the law in order to come to an objective judgment whether the case involves illegal accommodation. To combat illegal accommodation and protect the right of apartment owners, all investigations are conducted in a meticulous way. Only on condition that sufficient evidence is gathered, sanction procedures and temporary measures would be conducted in accord (to seal the apartment and cut the power and water supply).
As the entity to enforce the law, MGTO must continue to enforce the law strictly within the power granted by the law and work in close collaboration with other government entities to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement.
With regard to optimizing of visitor source markets and extending visitors’ length of stay, our Office would like to reply as follows:
To support the SAR Government’s policy to steer socioeconomic development towards diversification, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has been devoting great efforts to promote adequate diversification of the tourism industry in two main aspects: diversification of tourism products and visitor source markets. In addition to promoting diversification of tourism industry as the core objective, MGTO is also dedicated to promoting development of different tourism products, e.g. leisure tourism, cultural tourism, community tourism, festive tourism, shopping tourism and business tourism, to reach the goal of tourism product diversification and attract visitors from around the world for a longer stay in Macao by offering a variety of tourism elements.
In addition, to optimize the structure of visitor source markets and lead to transformation of travel style among visitors, the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan proposes the key objective to expand high-value market segments including silver hair, youth, family and affluent visitors. Through innovative marketing strategies in tandem with smart tourism and technology application, the Office seeks to enrich travelers’ experience and build the brand image of Macao as an ideal destination for multi-day visits.
Regarding the dedication to diversifying visitor markets and optimizing tourism environment, our Office would like to reply as follows:
The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) devotes great efforts to expand the diversity of visitor source markets to Macao and enhance the quality of the tourism industry. In the past, same-day visitors often constituted a higher proportion in total visitor arrivals to Macao. In 2015, same-day visitors accounted for 53.4% of total visitor arrivals. However, with continuous enhancement of tourism facilities and a broadening diversity of events, the number of overnight-stay visitors exceeded that of same-day visitors in 2016 for the first time in record, making up 50.7% of total visitor arrivals. The percentage of overnight-stay visitors climbed further to 52.9% in 2017, the highest in record over the last decade. International visitor arrivals in 2017 also hit the highest record of 3.18 million.
To attract high-quality visitations to Macao, the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan (“Master Plan”) proposes the key objective to expand high-value market segments including senior, youth, family and affluent visitors. It encompasses the following marketing strategies: enhance Macao’s brand image as an ideal destination for multi-day visits, highlight the diversity of existing and new trip experiences Macao can offer by carrying out wider and stronger promotions across the world, and put greater efforts in destination marketing online to reach a wider range of market segments.
Considering the international tourism organization’s forecast for tourism growth across Asia-Pacific and the globe, assessment of visitor market trends for Macao, forecast for economic growth and the tourism carrying capacity of Macao, the Master Plan predicts that visitor arrivals will continue to show moderate increase in the future. To cope with an expected rise in visitor arrivals, the tourism office will continue to attract visitors to visit Macao in different times of the year with a calendar packed with events and festivals, thus dispersing the demand of visitors across the year from peak seasons and augmenting the capacity of Macao to accommodate visitors.
By organizing tourism activities in different local districts as well as promoting community tourism and smart tourism, the tourism office encourages visitors to explore different communities for profound trip experiences. In the days ahead, with adequate development of new reclaimed urban zones and waterfront areas as well as revitalization of potential urban districts, residents and visitors will enjoy greater space for travel and cultural experiences as different urban districts are being developed in a balanced way.
MGTO will strive to uphold the policy goals and foster steady and sustainable tourism development in Macao, making relentless efforts to transform the city into a world centre of tourism and leisure.
Regarding extension of QTSAS to other tourism-related sectors, our Office would like to reply as follows:
Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) officially launched the Quality Tourism Services Accreditation Scheme (“QTSAS” or “the Scheme”) in 2014 to promote enhancement and pledge of service quality across the tourism and related industries as well as encourage and support industry operators to enhance their service culture, in support of Macao’s transformation into a world centre of tourism and leisure. Solely targeting the catering industry upon its launch, the Scheme has been expanded to cover travel agencies since 2016 after two years of successful practice. To date, 232 catering businesses and 37 travel agencies in Macao have become holders of the "Star Merchant Award".
QTSAS is a continuous scheme for service accreditation. Before putting new tourism and hospitality sectors under the umbrella of the Scheme, the Office would conduct a series of preceding studies, e.g. drawing reference from similar schemes in other countries and regions, consulting industry organizations and conducting questionnaire surveys. After aggregating and weighing opinions from different sides, appropriate criteria for assessment and procedures for accreditation were devised for the Scheme. Last year, MGTO began probing into the possibility of extending QTSAS to the retail sector and had meetings with the Consumer Council to work out a concrete scheme for collaboration. With satisfactory progress made, it will come next for the two bodies to lay out technical steps.
With regard to the sector of tour guides, MGTO has conducted preliminary research as well. Although it is technically feasible to assess tour guide services, divergent views remain in the sector at present. Before a wide consensus is reached, it will be a constraint that limits the enthusiasm of tour guides towards the Scheme and the degree of recognition gained by the Scheme from the sector. While it would be relatively challenging to include the sector of tour guides in the Scheme in the near future, MGTO will continue to engage in dialogues with industry delegates to fight for wider support among members of the trade in order to practice the Scheme in a progressively wider scope.
Nevertheless, to promote industry training and help industry personnel to gain mastery at work for continuous optimization of service and obtainment of local, regional and international accreditations in related professions, MGTO has tailored an array of training courses and professional accreditation courses catering to the needs of QTSAS-awarded merchants to bolster their service enhancement.