Macao to Become City of Gastronomy

Macao - January 19, 2017 (travelindex.com) - Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) held its Annual Press Conference today (18 January) and announced that Macao’s total visitor arrivals in 2016 hit a record of 30 million and more, slightly up by 0.8% from a year earlier. Regardless of the minor increase in total visitor arrivals last year, the sum of overnight-stay visitors outweighed that of same-day visitors for the first time over the last ten years, registering a year-on-year increase of nearly 10%. Looking forward in 2017, MGTO will complete its formulation of the "Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan” and carry out different new and ongoing projects to ensure diversified and sustainable development of Macao’s tourism industry, in parallel with the tourism development goals in the Five-Year Development Plan formulated by the SAR Government and its progress of building Macao into a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.

During the press conference, MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes presented a summary of last year’s tourism performance in Macao and an introduction of MGTO’s work plan in 2017. Over 400 participants were present in the conference including members of the travel trade and about 80 members of the press in Macao and from the Mainland, Hong Kong and neighboring regions, comprising foreign correspondents based in Macao and Hong Kong as well.

Macao tourism situation in 2016
In 2016, Macao’s economy remained in a period of adjustment. Nevertheless, the preliminary data show that international and total visitor arrivals in Macao both registered a year-on-year increase, so did the sum of visitors from the Greater China markets. International visitor arrivals were up by 8%.

Macao’s total visitor arrivals slightly went up by 0.8% from 2015 to a record of 30.95 million in 2016. Close to 28 million visitors came from the Greater China markets, a slight increase of 0.1%, whereas international visitor arrivals surged by 7.9%.

The Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan remained the top three visitor markets to Macao. Despite the slight decline in the number of Hong Kong visitors, both the Mainland and Taiwan markets registered growth. Macao welcomed over 20 million Mainland visitors last year, up by 0.2%, with 44% of them coming from Guangdong Province. As for independent visitors from the Mainland, the record reached nearly 9.56 million, accounting for 46% of Mainland visitor arrivals. An increase of 8.8% was recorded for the Taiwan market, whereas the sum of Hong Kong visitors dropped slightly by 1.8%.

With regard to the international markets, Korea still ranked the first among the rest, contributing over 660,000 visitors to Macao last year, with a robust growth of nearly 20%. Southeast Asian markets also saw a good performance. The sum of visitors from Thailand marked the largest growth of over 30% among the top ten source markets. The numbers of visitors from Indonesia and the Philippines rose by 11.7% and 3.7% respectively, whereas Japanese visitor arrivals surged by 6.5%. There was also a growth of 4.6% in the number of visitors from the United States, the only long-haul source market among the top ten.

Overnight-stay visitor arrivals outweighed same-day visitors for seven consecutive months
The preliminary data show that the total of overnight-stay visitors in 2016 exceeded 15.7 million, up by 9.8%, accounting for 50.7% of total visitor arrivals. For the first time in the last ten years, overnight-stay visitor arrivals exceeded same-day visitor arrivals last year, a situation lasting for seven consecutive months since last June. Throughout the year, the average length of stay of overnight-stay visitors stood at 2.1 days and that of visitors in general was 1.2 days (increase of 0.1 day).

The preliminary figures indicate that the total of hotel establishment overnight guests increased by 14% to a record of around 12 million last year. Affected mainly by a decline in gaming expense, the total visitor expenditure between January and September 2016 amounted to 21.6 billion US dollars, a period-on-period decrease of 7.1%.

In terms of the hotel sector, the average occupancy rate of hotel establishments in Macao in 2016 ranged from 82% to 84%, a year-on-year increase of 1 to 3 percentage points. The average room rate of three to five star hotels last year was 161.1 US dollars, down by 12.7%.

Up to the end of 2016, there are 113 hotel establishments in Macao supplying a total of 37,634 rooms, a year-on-year increase of nearly 14%. Among them, there are 47 establishments of budget accommodation with a total of 1,513 rooms. In 2016, MGTO imposed provisional measures for the first time to shut down a five-star hotel which had committed serious administrative irregularities.

MGTO's Tourist Information counters handled over 1.45 million visitor inquiries, material requests and suggestions last year. With regard to measures against illegal accommodation, the Office carried out 1,082 apartment inspections and sealed 164 apartments throughout the year, while the interdepartmental task force carried out 415 joint actions. The Office also carried out other inspections including over 2,300 inspections on business establishments and over 1,400 inspections at ports and tourist spots.

Service launch and optimization
In 2016, MGTO launched the online news database "Macao Tourism News plus" (Beta version). The platform currently provides over 10,000 data records which include more than 4,000 photos, enabling media to obtain press materials of MGTO and its representatives conveniently. MGTO also optimized the features of “Macao Tourism Data plus” by introducing new statistical indicators on hotel industry figures, subscription service, user manual and so on, to enhance dissemination of tourism statistical data. In addition, the Office launched the “Group Tour Online Complaint System” to further facilitate visitors.

In 2016, MGTO extended the scope of its “Quality Tourism Services Accreditation Scheme” (QTSAS) to cover the sector of travel agencies as well and received applications from a total of 31 travel agencies. On the other hand, the number of participants joining industry training programs and workshops supported and facilitated by MGTO exceeded 1,200 in 2016. In terms of manpower, the Office recruited 11 new staff members in 2016, adding up to a total of 406 current employees.

Forging ahead with four major goals in 2017
1. Develop a diversity of tourism products, evaluate event effectiveness and initiate new projects: MGTO will complete formulation of "Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan” in 2017, which will cover an array of topics including tourism products, destination marketing, tourism carrying capacity and more. Following that, MGTO will carry out different strategies and measures in parallel with the major goals set in the Master Plan. Besides, MGTO will conduct a feasibility study on the cultural tourism project in Ka Ho Village of Our Lady; Make progress in the remodeling project of the Tourism Activities Centre into the Macao Grand Prix Museum; begin preparation work for relocation of the Wine Museum to Coloane; support industry partners to operate maritime tours around Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Coloane; continue to forge Macao into a City of Events by once again organizing and supporting various events and activities, etc.

2. Enhance industry service quality and optimize industry incentive system: coordinate with training institutes to provide industry training programs; continue to develop an online learning platform and support industry professionals to keep upgrading their skills through training; continue to carry out the “Quality Tourism Services Accreditation Scheme” and optimize the current assessment and incentive systems; conduct regular inspections at tourist attractions, ports of entry and MGTO-licensed establishments; provide timely assistance for tour groups and promptly mediate tourism disputes; advocate rational consumption; revise tourism-related laws; make continuous efforts to combat illegal accommodation, etc.

3.Unleash synergistic effects and enhance destination promotion: continue to unleash synergistic effects through collaboration with relevant departments; participate and foster development of leisure tourism landmarks including “Anim’Arte Nam Van”, etc; continue to develop smart tourism and leverage means of technology such as popular websites, mobile applications, social media platforms and search engines to promote Macao; partner with well-established online platforms and bloggers to further promote the destination on the Internet; renew the promotional video “Experience Macao Your Own Style” and produce a new promotional video under the sub-theme “Events”; expand the diversity of international source markets and make stronger promotional efforts in mid-haul markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia and so forth to attract high-value visitors to Macao and extend visitors’ length of stay; continue to construct the platform of Macao Tourism News plus by building up the cross-sector tourism news database step by step and compiling local tourism press materials provided by different sources, with the plan to invite members of the local travel trade to upload press materials to the “Macao Tourism News plus” as well.

4. Strengthen multilateral cooperation mechanism, actively participate in international organizations: attract organizers to choose Macao as the destination for large-scale international tourism conventions and exhibitions (The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart 2017 will be held in Macao on 13 – 15 September); apply to become a UNESCO Creative Cities Network member in the field of gastronomy; organize the International Gastronomy Forum to promote sustainable development of the local gastronomic cultural industry; facilitate and promote cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries in various aspects of the tourism field.

In addition, MGTO will engage in the work of the “Joint Working Committee on Tourism to Support Macao's Aspirations to Build a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure”; strengthen cooperation across Pan-Pearl River Delta, between Hong Kong - Macao, Guangdong - Hong Kong - Macao, Guangdong - Macao and Fujian - Macao while capitalizing on the opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative to promote multi-destination tourism products and follow up with the tasks in the tourism field set in the "Guangdong-Macao Cooperation Framework Agreement"; discuss development of diversified travel itineraries with partner tourism entities in the region; organize promotional activities for multi-destination travel across the Mainland and overseas while expanding the geographic scope of partnership for multi-destination travel; actively join hands with other members of the “China Maritime Silk Road Tourism Promotion Alliance” to develop new tourism products and further promote the destination, etc.

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