The tourism industry continued to benefit in 2019 from the work carried out by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) as the city recorded the most visitor arrivals in any year yet. Despite fluctuations in the global economy, Macao welcomed more visitors from Greater China, more day-trippers and more overnight visitors last year than in 2018.
At its annual press conference held on January 15, MGTO officials reviewed the work undertaken by the Office in 2019. It included fostering of the development of smart tourism, consolidating the status of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, and actively engaging in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as a tourist destination.
Figures released in January by the Macao SAR Government Statistics and Census Service show the city recorded the arrival of more than 39.4 million visitors last year, a 10.1-percent increase compared to 2018. The number arriving from Greater China grew by 11.3 percent to 36.3 million, while the number arriving from other parts of the world fell by 2.8 percent to about 3.1 million.
The number of visitors from Mainland China grew by 10.5 percent last year to more than 27.9 million. Among them, 45.9 percent were from Guangdong Province. More than 13 million arrivals were independent travellers rather than members of tour groups, making up 46.8 percent of all visitors from Mainland China.
The number of visitors from Hong Kong grew by 16.2 percent to 7.4 million and the number from the Taiwan region grew by 0.2 percent to more than 1 million.
The Republic of Korea remained the main source of international visitors to Macao, with more than 743,000 arrivals last year. The number of Filipinos visiting rose by 35.6 percent.
The number of visitors from the United States slipped by 1 percent. The country was the only long-haul market among the top 10 markets for visitors to Macao in 2019.
The increase in visitor arrivals was partly facilitated by operations at Macau International Airport. The airport operator says more than 9.6 million passengers passed though the airport last year, 16 percent higher than in 2018 and the most on record.
The tourist arrival data show that the number of visitors staying overnight in Macao climbed by 0.8 percent to surpass 18.6 million, or about 47.3 percent of all arrivals in 2019. The average length of stay by overnight visitors was 2.2 days. The average length of stay by all visitors was 1.2 days.
The number of same-day visitor arrivals to Macao grew by 20 percent to almost 20.8 million.
Hotels and guesthouses in Macao accommodated 14.1 million guests last year, up by 1.1 percent in year-on-year terms, meaning their average occupancy rate was steady at around 91 percent. The average room rate in three-star, four-star and five-star hotels rose by 1.5 percent to US$170.10.
Figures by the Statistics and Census Service show that at the end of 2019 the 123 hotels and guesthouses in Macao contained 38,300 rooms, 1.4 percent less than a year earlier. Of the 123 hotels in operation, 54 were budget accommodation, together containing about 2,000 rooms.
Review of achievements by MGTO in 2019
The tourism growth recorded by Macao in 2019 was supported by the work of MGTO last year. At its annual press conference held in January, MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes gave a retrospective overview of the Office’s performance last year that outlined progress made on several important tasks.
In smart tourism, MGTO began to benefit from the positive outcomes of its collaboration with Alibaba Cloud, undertaking three projects: setting up a “tourism information interchange platform”, launching an “application for visitor insights”, and introducing a “smart application for visitor flows”. The Office showed off a smart tourism robot designed to look like the Macao tourism mascot, “MAK MAK”, which was built by Macao technology researchers and developers.
Also introduced in 2019 was a new Macao tourism promotion website. MGTO made tourism industry information more easily available to visitors and people working in tourism through a government data platform.
To develop Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, MGTO staged its first cooking show during the “International Gastronomy Forum, Macao 2019”, in which young chefs from other UNESCO Creative Cities of Gastronomy demonstrated their craft. The event was designed to strengthen ties between the catering industries in Macao and elsewhere. In collaboration with National Geographic, “The Great Green Food Journey” got underway to find, promote and support sustainable practices for the food and drink industry in Macao.
MGTO continued to contribute to developing tourism in the Greater Bay Area in 2019. The Office staffed joint booths to promote the Greater Bay Area at international travel fairs, including the 7th Macao International Travel (Industry) Expo (MITE). The Office invited tourism enterprises elsewhere in the Greater Bay Area to exhibit at MITE. MGTO also invited representatives of the travel trade abroad to visit cities in the Greater Bay Area, and promoted multi-destination tours of the city cluster.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Macao SAR, MGTO held a series of activities in 2019 in places that are major sources of visitors to the city. As part of the celebrations, the Office arranged the first fireworks display jointly put on by Macao and the neighbouring city of Zhuhai.
The Office did 1,967 inspections of tourism businesses last year, and 1,550 inspections were conducted at points of entry and tourist attractions. To counter illegal accommodation, 1,984 inspections of apartments by the Office resulted in the sealing-up of 382 premises. MGTO staff took part in 616 operations mounted by the Government task force to curb illegal accommodation.