With regard to leveraging tourism cooperation opportunities brought by Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area to enhance the diversity of tourism products and experience, our Office would like to reply as follows:
In support of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development, the tourism department of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government has laid a solid foundation by forging sound cooperative relationships with other cities in the Pearl River Delta Region over the years to extend the scope of cooperation with the cluster of cities in the Bay Area, advancing integrated tourism development and sharing of tourism resources. In accord with the above, the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan has proposed action plans on jointly developing tourism products as follows: expand cooperation with neighboring cities to develop island tours, develop Macao into a core destination for short-haul multi-destination tours in the Pearl River Delta Region through concerted development of maritime tourism products; work closely with Mainland authorities to speed up yacht tourism development; expand the “Free Yacht Scheme” to cover more cities; develop both existing and new projects into bi-city events, e.g. sports exchange events and themed tourism events, among others. By branding the region as one travel destination, promoting joint tourism products offered by the Bay Area and joining hands to expand our visitor source markets across the Mainland and overseas, we are set to attract more visitations to Macao and our neighboring cities for a longer stay.
Initiated by the Tourism Administration of Guangdong Province, Tourism Commission of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the Tourism Federation of Cities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Bay Area was established last December as a brand-new organization for comprehensive tourism cooperation. The Federation consists of the tourism authorities of the nine cities of Guangdong Province – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing – as well as the two Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macao. Upon its establishment, the Federation approved the Articles of the Tourism Federation of Cities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Bay Area and signed the agreement, with the aim to put the “Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area” into implementation and together build a quality living circle ideal for inhabitation, work and travel. Upholding the principle of “concerted development, joint branding and market sharing”, the Federation will promote communication and cooperation among members through resource integration, image promotion, collaborative marketing and other means, as all members join hands to forge a world-class travel destination. The establishment of the Federation will not only push forward tourism cooperation and interchanges between the three destinations but also foster their joint branding as one international tourism destination and their forging of a new tourism benchmark as a world-class bay area, creating a strong momentum for the tourism development of the entire region of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and the national tourism development.
Regarding progressive implementation of the action plan for forging a City of Gastronomy, our Office would like to reply as follows:
To prepare for the application of “Macao, China” for the designation as a new member city of UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy, the Macao SAR Government founded the Application of Macao, China for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) Committee in July, 2016. Headed by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, the Committee is composed of members representing different government bodies, tertiary institutions and catering industry associations in Macao, among others. The success of the application came after thorough preparations that involved full collaboration among different sectors and effective use of their resources, as well as a range of other endeavors. Discussions and studies were held to look into feasible schemes, policies and measures to foster preservation of Macao’s culinary heritage, innovation and exchange projects in the field of gastronomy. Different circles of the society were encouraged to participate actively and provide valuable suggestions. The Committee also sought to learn from the experiences of other Cities of Gastronomies and push forward work to optimize hard and soft facilities essential to a Creative City of Gastronomy.
Following the designation of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, the SAR Government unfolded a four-year action plan that includes kicking-off 2018 as the Macao Year of Gastronomy, one of its key highlights. To forge ahead with the initiatives of the action plan in steady progress, the first “Macao･Creative City of Gastronomy” work meeting was attended by all members of the aforementioned Committee and other invited experts on 30 January, 2018, who discussed and exchanged their insights on the current situation and future prospects of the catering industry in Macao. Attendees were encouraged to offer their perspectives via different channels and join hands in propelling the development of Macao as a City of Gastronomy.
Since the start of preparations for the application until the unfolding of the action plan that ensues after the designation, the SAR Government has been working in close collaboration with the catering sector, related professionals, experts and scholars to solicit opinions from various sides and lay out concrete work schemes, with a strong synergy delivered.
The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Institute for Tourism Studies and the Fraternity of Macanese Gastronomy (officially named Confraria da Gastronomia Macaense) conducted the first meeting on 15 March this year to discuss preparatory steps for building a database for Macanese cuisine, another major project in the four-year work plan for forging Macao into a City of Gastronomy.
To support the development of the City of Gastronomy, MGTO will design new culinary routes to be included in the “Step Out, Experience Macao’s Communities - Walking Tour Routes”, based upon the eight existing routes. MGTO is currently aggregating information about eateries and restaurants along the walking tour routes from the United Association of Food and Beverage Merchants of Macao, the General Union of Neighbors Association of Macau, the Industry and Commerce Association of Macau Northern District, the Industry and Commerce Federation of Macau Central and Southern District as well as the Industry and Commerce Federation of Islands of Macao. The information includes their opening hours, type of cuisine and location by district, etc. MGTO will examine and compile the data to fully promote the dining scene in Macao and attract visitors and residents to different districts for a taste of special cuisines. After launching the culinary routes, MGTO will regularly update the information about eateries along the routes so that visitors can have the latest information in hand.
Regarding public concern on establishment of a tourism information interchange platform, our Office would like to reply as follows:
In response to the swift advance of information technology and its growing prevalence in the tourism industry, the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan has proposed pertinent strategies grounded on analyses and research conducted specifically on technology application in the field of tourism. One of the planning proposals innovative is to build a tourism information interchange platform as a key channel to receive, store and release information about the tourism industry. The data available on this platform will cover different areas, e.g. entertainment, attraction, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, tourism statistics and travelers’ behavior. The platform is designed to enable data sharing among tourism industry stakeholders. Information technology companies and researchers can also harness the respective data creatively to develop different innovative tools for access to tourism information, e.g. website and mobile app. Through establishment of the tourism information interchange platform, MGTO aims to facilitate application and development of innovative technology in the tourism industry, expand the capacity of the tourism industry and enhance smart tourism, in order to steer the local tourism industry towards sustainable development.
Regarding work on continuously enhancing release of Macao tourism statistical data, our Office would like to reply as follows:
In line with the orientation of the Special Administrative Region Government towards electronic administration and information transparency, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) launched the Macao Tourism Data plus (“MTD plus”) in 2015, an online platform for members of different circles to search for and obtain tourism statistical figures conveniently under one roof. At present, “MTD plus” features interactive data, tables of tourism statistics, e-publications, other tourism-related statistics, distribution maps of visitor source markets as well as a tourism situation video. MGTO has kept optimizing the platform since its launch, offering new choices of language including Portuguese and Simplified Chinese in 2016 and 2017 as well as subscription service, among other features. To expand the inclusiveness and usefulness of the platform, the Office will consider adding new functions and information to “MTD plus”. This year, MGTO also plans for numbers of visitors arriving in Macao during the Spring Festival Golden Week and 1st October Golden Week to be posted on the platform for users to look up the data in the future.
To help different circles of the society grasp a clearer and better picture of visitor figures in Macao, the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) put the Visitor Statistics Database into service last September. With specific indicators developed, the Database encompasses diverse figures of visitor arrivals in Macao from January 2017 for the public’s reference. Through the Database, DSEC regularly releases numbers of visitors per year and month, by place of issue of travel document as well as point of entry. There are visitor figures per day, by gender and age group as well. The Database also provides figures of visitors from specific places, e.g. the Belt and Road countries and Portuguese-speaking countries. For the first time, DSEC also released statistical data with regard to the number of revisits paid by repeat visitors to Macao within a selected period from half a year to three years. Furthermore, DSEC delivered the “System of Statistical Indicators for Adequate Diversification of Macao’s Economy 2015" in late 2016, the first report of its kind with the aim to mirror the city’s economic progress towards adequate diversification from a range of statistical data. The report comprises an array of major statistical indicators that reveal the local economic development towards diversification in eight aspects as follows: 1. Diversification of industry structure; 2. Diversification of the gaming industry; 3. Diversification of business activities of gaming concessionaires; 4. Diversification of visitor source markets; 5. Diversification of tourism-and-gaming-related industries; 6. Diversification of emerging industries; 7. Room for local enterprises and citizens to enhance development beyond Macao through external and regional cooperation; and 8. Diversification of employment for local populace.
In addition, in the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan published last year, one of the key objectives and strategies regarding tourism and the application of innovative technology is to set up a tourism information interchange platform as a channel to share, receive, store and release information about the tourism industry. The platform will enable data sharing among tourism industry stakeholders, aggregation of tourism information and uniform data usage. The aim is to facilitate application and development of innovative technology in the tourism industry, expand the capacity of the tourism industry and enhance smart tourism. At present, MGTO is dedicating efforts to the construction of the tourism information interchange platform. The project will be announced in due course once confirmed.
Regarding work on establishing service quality standards in the tourism industry, encouraging and supporting industry operators to optimize their service quality, 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 establish benchmarks for service quality in the tourism industry, encourage and support industry operators to optimize their service quality as well as commend tourism merchants and practitioners for their remarkable service and excellent service management, in parallel with Macao’s vision to become a world centre of tourism and leisure. To date, 232 catering businesses and 37 travel agencies in Macao have gained the "Star Merchant Award". For details about these accredited businesses, the public is welcome to obtain the "Star Merchant Award – Restaurants and Eateries Guide” and the brochure “Star Merchant Award – Travel Agency Industry” from MGTO’s Tourist Information counters or browse the electronic versions on MGTO’s website: www.macaotourism.gov.mo .
A continuous scheme for service accreditation, QTSAS is grounded on similar schemes in other countries and regions. Industry organizations were also consulted and surveys conducted among visitors. After aggregating perspectives from different sides, appropriate criteria for assessment and procedures for accreditation were devised. A series of practical guidelines are presented in the assessment criteria for the catering industry and travel agency industry. On condition that a business entering the Scheme meets the pertinent criteria, the business can enhance its service quality based upon the guiding standards of quality service and harvest the award.
Besides the sets of internationally-applicable benchmarks provided by the above Scheme, MGTO has tailored an array of training courses and professional accreditation courses catering to the needs of participating and award-winning merchants since 2014, e.g. training workshops for frontline staff about attitudes for customer service and skills of handling demanding customers, City & Guilds “International Introductory Award in Hospitality Customer Service” course, City & Guilds “International Introductory Award in Conflict Handling” course, language workshops (English and Korean) and the Workshop for Travel Agency Frontline Staff – Tour Escort, among others. Many participants enrolled in the above courses and workshops.
Furthermore, MGTO has been communicating closely with industry operators every year to gain a timely update of their training demands and needs. The Office has also partnered with academic institutes, travel trade, industry associations and training entities in Macao to provide various kinds of professional training courses, workshops and seminars to support industry operators to work on different issues and enhance service quality in local tourism-related sectors, all towards building a positive image of Macao as an international travel destination.
Regarding tour routes and promotions for the northern district, our Office would like to reply as follows:
Among the eight walking tour routes designed by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) under the theme “Step Out, Experience Macao’s Communities”, the route themed as the “Enchanting Stories of Our Lady of Fatima Parish” guides visitors to embark on a stroll in the northern district of Macao, from the Border Gate and Areia Preta Triangle Garden to hidden gems such as Lin Fong Temple, Lin Zexu Memorial Museum of Macau and Mong-Há Fort. Local eateries and shopping places in the district are also recommended, with useful information provided about options of transport and public facilities, encouraging visitors to explore the district for sightseeing.
Furthermore, MGTO continues to promote tourism development in the northern district. In recent years, the Office has supported local social organizations to organize an array of activities themed around community tourism and the Macao Awareness Campaign. In addition, the Office has adopted innovative marketing strategies and harnessed online platforms, e.g. inviting key opinion leaders (KOLs) and crews for micro-film productions, to spotlight the tourism resources and characteristics of the northern district.
In terms of promotion, the Macao Guide Book – one of the promotional materials published by MGTO – has presented detail introductions and sightseeing maps which guide travelers to explore different districts including the northern district for its many tourist attractions, e.g. the Border Gate, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Municipal Park, Lin Fong Temple, Lin Zexu Memorial Museum of Macau and Mong Há Hill Municipal Park. The Macao Guide Book is distributed at MGTO’s Tourist Information counters and local hotels, as well as widely given out by MGTO’s representatives around the world at overseas travel fairs and various events for promotional purpose.
To promote various activities to be rolled out for the 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy, MGTO plans to partner with local food critics/KOLs to showcase the city’s culinary heritage, stories, skills and recipes through digital channels such as WeChat, Weibo and Instagram. The northern district will be foremost highlighted in the promotional campaign with research conducted in advance to gather information about the dining scene in the district. The promotional campaign is expected to unfold in early April.
Besides exerting vigorous endeavors to promote tourist attractions and culinary delights offered by the northern district, MGTO also actively engages in the Task Force for the Community Economic Development in the Northern District under the Economic Development Committee of the Macao SAR Government, joining hands with industry partners, community organizations and other government entities to unveil the charm of community tourism in the northern district and in turn drive economic growth across the district.
With regard to public concern about smart tourism development, our Office would like to reply as follows:
The SAR Government has been devoting unreserved efforts to develop Macao as a smart city. Smart tourism is a major component for building a tourist destination like Macao into a smart city. In the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan delivered in 2017, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) came up with an array of development strategies to propel smart tourism, including: Apply technology to drive forward destination marketing, creating interactive websites and mobile applications fueled by innovative technology; build an information interchange platform and tourism database; optimize tourism security systems through smart technology to enhance management of the city’s tourism carrying capacity and enable visitors to access the latest situation at popular tourist attractions, thereby enhancing the trip experiences of visitors.
At present, our Office has launched a range of smart tourism products for residents and visitors, e.g. mobile applications and interactive information screens, among others. In line with the sweeping prevalence of the application of technology tools and devices across the world, we will regularly evaluate the direction our city is heading for smart tourism development and study the applicability of cutting-edge technology on the tourism industry to steer our tourism industry towards sustainable growth.
Regarding public opinion and concern on regulation of hotel pricing, illegal accommodation as well as supply and demand of lodging, our Office would like to reply as follows:
With regard to hotel pricing, hotel rooms are available for sale through different channels such as respective hotels, local and overseas travel agencies as well as hotel booking websites. The operation of non-local travel agencies and hotel booking websites does not fall into the scope of laws and regulations of the Macao Special Administrative Region. Owing to the operating model of hotels, better deals are generally available during low seasons or when rooms are booked in advance. In addition, hotel rooms are commonly divided into different types and categories. When rooms of lower categories, i.e. lower-priced rooms, are sold out, rooms of higher categories will remain available under higher prices. On the other hand, travel agencies and hotel booking websites normally purchase a large quantity of hotel rooms for different periods ahead of time. While sales agents are able to sell hotel rooms under higher prices during peak travel seasons, deficits may incur in their business during low seasons. Hotel pricing therefore involves various factors. It is a phenomenon not just local but universal for hotel room prices to be set based on fluctuations in the supply and demand of hotel rooms.
Since the Law No. 3/2010 on "Prohibition of Providing Illegal Accommodation" came into force on 13 August 2010, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), as the supervisory body, has worked hand in hand with the interdepartmental task force to crack down on illegal accommodation through rigorous inspections. Receiving reports and complaints remains the most significant means for our Office to collect information about any alleged provision of illegal accommodation. Effective reports with elaborate information can remarkably enhance the productivity of our work on combating illegal accommodation. MGTO has hence set up a range of channels for residents to file their reports and complaints, including a 24-hour hotline for public complaints, special webpage for filing complaints, e-mail and letter, etc. Residents are also welcome to file a complaint in person at our Office during office hours. Further to the above, we maintain regular communication with community and social organizations to solicit public opinions and grasp a clearer picture of the distribution of illegal accommodation in local communities, so that better plans and measures can be rolled out for law enforcement. In addition, our Office has been carrying out educational campaigns to raise public awareness on the Law No. 3/2010. Promotional posters are posted and leaflets are distributed at residential buildings and areas pervaded by illegal accommodation, to call for apartment owners’ attention to prevent their premises from being operated as illegal accommodation, and on the other hand, to propagate the importance of choosing licensed hotels among visitors.
To effectively tackle the issue of illegal accommodation, MGTO carries out frequent patrols employing sufficient manpower. Besides conducting raids upon police notifications, our Office carries out an average of three to four inspections per week. While our measures are rigorous on combating provision of illegal accommodation, we value the importance of maintaining tranquility in residents’ life. Therefore we strive for a balance between effective law enforcement and ensuring tranquility in local communities.
According to information provided by the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau, a total of 26 hotel establishments are in the pipeline undergoing construction. To speed up completion of tourism facilities, MGTO continues to work closely with industry partners and endeavors to ensure a smooth licensing process during the peak period for hotel inauguration by optimizing relevant measures and manpower allocation. To expedite increases in the supply of hotel establishments in different star categories and foster diversification of the local hotel industry, MGTO has established a special task force for budget accommodation to provide comprehensive support in the procedures of approval for license applications and make it one of the top priorities to handle license applications for budget accommodation. In addition, to refine relevant laws and cater to the demand arising with tourism development, MGTO is currently working on revision of the proposed laws on regulating licensing and operation of hotels and catering establishments in hotels.
In face of the swift urban development and the mounting diversity of gastronomic culture, old and small traditional eateries in Macao are confronted with growing challenges to survive and carry on their legacy. It has become our SAR Government’s concern to help these old and small traditional eateries imbued with unique local characteristics to thrive sustainably in the midst of new trends and the changing dynamic of the business environment.
To encourage local young people to start their own business fueled by creativity and unveil business opportunities for different professions and sectors, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau, the Macao Economic Bureau and the Preparatory Committee for Cultivating Entrepreneurship and Creativity in Youth jointly present the Cultivation Plan of Youth Entrepreneurship and Creativity (the “Plan”). The Plan is divided into three phases known as “young birds exploring for dreams”, “young birds on the rise” and “young birds pursuing dreams”. From theory to practice, the Plan is designed to cultivate innovative mindsets in youth with a step-by-step and easy-to-understand approach, educating and training participants to start their business. Known as “young birds exploring for dreams”, the first phase of the Plan opens the eyes of participants to the local entrepreneurial environment and the wealth of opportunities in different sectors. Emphasizing the preservation and development of unique and traditional gastronomy in Macao, the curriculum will be enriched this year with broader aspects about the entrepreneurial environment in Macao, with a special focus on the knowledge and potential of old and small traditional eateries in Macao, to widen the perspectives of young participants on Macao’s signature delicacies and inspire them to forge career paths towards the field. The Plan embraces the vision to preserve Macao’s culinary heritage, bring new colors to the palette of local traditional gastronomy and revitalize the business of the aging yet unique and traditional eateries with the young’s creative and innovative ideas.
In addition to the Plan above, the Cultural Industries Fund seeks to encourage cultural industry professionals to develop business projects promoting local gastronomy, design gastronomy-related products and tell new stories around gastronomic themes. They are also encouraged to unleash the power of creativity in their productions of online short videos, films, TV programs, animations and comics by highlighting elements of local gastronomy. Entering 2018, the Cultural Industries Fund will launch specialized subsidies tailored for unique shops in local communities, with the aim to bolster cultural and creative businesses to recount fascinating stories about the culture of these communities by weaving up different cultural and creative elements, thereby establishing cultural and creative brands that belong to local communities.
With regard to public concern and opinion about the city’s tourism carrying capacity during festive holidays, our Office would like to reply as follows:
Tourism continues to stand as one of the most important industries in Macao. While the SAR Government welcomes visitors to Macao for vacation, we care about residents’ quality of life which we are dedicated to safeguarding in parallel with our effort to promote tourism development, with our aspiration to strike a balance between the two.
During festivals and holidays, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) operates a 24-hour tourism hotline service with operators answering enquiries and are ready to provide assistance for visitors. In addition, to cope with situations arising during peak periods for visitor arrivals, during the Spring Festival Golden Week and the 1st October Golden Week, the Office operates the "Tourism Notification System for the Golden Week" together with the Tourism Administration of Guangdong Province and posts figures of visitor arrivals at different ports of entry on its website such that visitors can plan their trips to Macao ahead of time. MGTO also publishes press releases well ahead of Golden Week holidays for the public and visitors to obtain related tourism information in advance. Specific food guides are produced for visitors to learn about the list of catering establishments which operate their business during Golden Week holidays. Reminders are also sent to Mainland visitors upon their arrival to Macao via mobile text message to inform them about the flow of visitors at major tourist attractions. Furthermore, the “Step Out, Experience Macao's Communities – Walking Tour Routes” and its mobile application are recommended to visitors, who are encouraged to explore different communities for profound travel experience, with the Office’s aim to divert visitors off the beaten path and foster community tourism development. Personnel are also arranged at ten different tourist points to provide tourism information and guidance for visitors and assist in diverting visitors during Golden Week holidays.
In addition to the above measures, MGTO has tailored an array of festive events to roll out at different local districts to cater to the needs of both residents and visitors. During Chinese New Year last month, MGTO organized a series of activities including the Golden Dragon and Lion Parade, Parade for Celebration of the Year of the Dog, performances presented at designated locations by non-local performance groups of the Parade as well as the Parade Float Exhibition, all of which were thoughtfully arranged to dazzle different locations across Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Coloane. In recent years, MGTO has ventured forth to develop a variety of tourism products packed with creativity and innovation, hoping to offer a new horizon of trip experiences for visitors to dive into, thereby attracting visitations from a wider range of source markets and enhancing the image of Macao as an international travel destination. The Parade for Celebration of Chinese New Year, which was held just weeks ago, has gradually risen to become one of our signature festive events that speak about the unique charm of the city.