Family Hostels: MGTO Announces Feasibility Study Findings

MGTO Director says study reveals not enough support from population to introduce this kind of accommodation to Macau

Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) announced the findings of its ‘Feasibility Study of Family Hostel’ on 17th December at a briefing session convened by MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes and Deputy Directors Cecilia Tse and Cheng Wai Tong.

The study, undertaken in June and July, 2014 by a research institute, comprised an opinion poll (street and online survey), case analyses and legal opinion vis-a-vis existing regulations.

A total of 2,243 samples were collected via street surveys and online questionnaires, with 2,028 interviews conducted on the street and 215 on the Internet. Of the supporters, some 62 per cent supported the concept of family hostels - whereby rooms are let out in private dwellings - with over 50 per cent of these supporters expressing the view that room prices would be relatively cheaper in family hostels, while 30 per cent thought that visitors could benefit from more choice. Other reasons cited for support were that family hostels could enable visitors to better experience Macau’s local culture, thus attracting a greater variety of visitors, who were more likely to extend their length of stay, etc. Of the 33 per cent of respondents who opposed the concept of family hostels, 70 per cent cited their concern about public security issues, while other reasons for opposition included regulatory issues, a surge in flat prices, traffic problems, etc.

Without any prerequisites, over half of the respondents (62.5 per cent) supported the idea of family hostels. However, no particular district in Macau was deemed most suitable for such an establishment. Only the respondents residing in Cathedral Parish on the Macau Peninsula and Coloane stated that they favoured having family hostels in their own districts. The residents of all other districts opposed the initiative with regard to their own areas.

For those who supported the establishment of family hostels, a greater percentage demanded the fulfilment of the following preconditions: self-operation by practical user of premises (68.3 per cent), limit set on total room number (75.1 per cent), individual apartments with an independent access (71.8 per cent, single-block buildings (80.5 per cent) and amendments to current regulations concerning hotels and relevant businesses (69.2 per cent). They also demanded that prior to launching family hostels the government should be thoroughly prepared including formulation of regulations and standards for family hostel establishments, as well as stipulating the location of family hostels; the government should also conduct regulatory measures effectively, and maintain public security and hygienic environment while sending inspectors on patrol.

Case analysis and conclusions

Based on the situation in Macau, the research institute selected various cases for analysis from Hong Kong; Xiamen; Sanya; Taiwan, China; and Japan. The institute compared and analysed the cases with regard to the relevant laws, stipulated limit on room number, building standards and requirements as well as management style of operators in their respective destinations.

The analysis concluded that there is no single definition of a family hostel. A family hostel is not a budget hostel; the existence of a family hostel is based on a demand for complementary supplies to remedy the shortage of hotel rooms or guesthouses during peak travel seasons and in more remote regions; family hostels should be operated in single-block buildings, while their establishment should target visitors from different niche markets; relevant business guidelines or regulations are required.

MGTO also conducted a study and analysis of the current legal framework of the Macau SAR and its regulations regarding the establishment of family hostels. The Office also conducted a legal analysis on the feasibility of permitting family hostels within the current regulations.

The conclusion was that the development of family hostels in Macau requires the formulation of new regulations or amendments to current regulations.

“At this moment, there's not enough support from the population to continue to introduce this kind of accommodation in Macau,” said MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes. “Sixty per cent of the population say they believe it would be feasible to implement this kind of accommodation but they do not want it in their neighbourhood . . . The majority of the population believes this will provide cheaper accommodation. And it may be a little cheaper. However, the examples of Taiwan or Japan show that this model is not a real economic alternative to existing accommodation.”