The Tourism Development Committee (CDT, under its Portuguese acronym) convened the second Plenary Meeting of 2020 on 18 November. The meeting saw the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) present an overview of the state of tourism, and deliver the progress and results from implementing both the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan and the city’s tourism recovery plan. CDT members keenly discussed the state of the tourism industry and offered suggestions.
The meeting was led by MGTO Director, and Acting Committee Chairperson, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes. CDT members, MGTO Deputy Directors Cheng Wai Tong and Ricky Hoi, and various MGTO department heads were also at the meeting.
Acting Committee Chairperson Senna Fernandes highlighted the Macao SAR Government’s continuing efforts in petitioning for cross-border visits of Mainland tour groups to Macao. She indicated that an official reply had recently been received from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China. The official reply said cross-border group travel could not be resumed at this point owing to the requirements of the national mechanism on prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the Macao SAR Government would continue to work hard towards its goal, she said.
Tourism figures on upward trend
In its report on the latest tourism data, MGTO said the pandemic had forced visitor arrivals to Macao to plunge since late January, with about 4.02 million arrivals between January and September 2020, a year-on-year decline of 86.7 percent.
Following the reinstatement of travel permit issuance to Macao for all Mainland residents from 23 September, visitor arrivals have resumed a sustained, upward trend. Macao registered an average of about 19,000 visitor arrivals a day in October, up by 26 percent compared to September. As of third week of November, the average daily visitor arrivals of the month surpassed 21,000.
Provisional data provided by hotel establishments to MGTO, showed the average hotel occupancy rate reached 38.1 percent in October, and ranged between 38.4 percent and 40.7 percent in the first three weeks of November.
Tourism, destination promotion resume
As the effects of the pandemic have gradually stabilised, the Macao SAR Government rolled out a variety of measures and schemes to revive tourism, and other industries, in parallel with the overall measures for economic recovery. In June, MGTO launched the tourism recovery plan in the city, which included the “Macao Ready Go!” e-platform (5 June to 31 December), the “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” project (22 June to 30 September), and the scheme “to expand visitor source, revive the economy and secure employment opportunities” released on 1 September.
Preliminary evaluations of the “Macao Ready Go!” e-platform and local tours projects found the e-platform created considerable economic benefits and promotional effects, besides achieving a high level of customer satisfaction. The local tours project garnered strongly positive feedback. A more extensive study of the broader economic benefits of the “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” is underway.
Also underway is the scheme “to expand visitor source, revive the economy and secure employment opportunities”. It hopes to promote special offers in transport, hotel accommodation, dining and retail through online commercial platforms, to boost tourism expenditure, extend visitors’ length of stay and widen consumer chains, in turn, spurring economic recovery. Some 432,361 cash coupons were distributed by the beginning of November. In total, 265,541 coupons, the equivalent of RMB4.14 million, had been cashed in, creating a transaction amount of about RMB94.73 million at a leverage ratio of 22.9.
MGTO Deputy Director Cheng noted during the CDT meeting that “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” inspired industry operators to develop new products and won positive feedback from residents. He encouraged everyone involved with the travel trade to develop the outcomes from the local tours, seizing the opportunity to create a new trend that helps industry diversification.
Master Plan review begins end of the year
During the meeting, it was stated that MGTO would begin a review of the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan at the end of this year, making timely adjustments to the content, and ensuring that major development goals and strategies are aligned with the current tourism situation and foster sustainable tourism development in Macao.
The Master Plan was released in 2017, and proposes eight key objectives, and 91 short-, medium- and long-term action plans. Provisional statistics show the implementation of short-term action plans had exceeded 80 percent by the first half of 2020.
With the transformations in the tourism environment, the Master Plan review will be conducted with an analysis of the influence brought by global tourism trends, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as national tourism policies and planning upon Macao’s tourism development, among other factors. CDT’s opinions will be solicited during the review.
Suggestions for recovery, development
CDT members offered suggestions to improve the recovery of the tourism industry. Among their requests were greater levels of travel permit issuance for Guangdong visitors and the resumption of online issuance of travel permits in Mainland China. Other suggestions included marketing campaigns to create more buzz, promotion of wedding travel, boosting the brand image of Macao Tourism Mascot MAK MAK, and increased messaging that Macao is a COVID-safe destination. CDT members also proposed the development of short- and long-haul travel markets and products, diverse mega events, and spotlights on monthly line-ups of events.
CDT members agreed that the “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” project had bolstered the travel trade’s confidence. One member said industry operators had taken the initiative to organise a second series of events called “Macao Ready Go Again”, which involves about 100 travel agencies and showcases some of the tourism products from “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours”.
CDT members and attendees who expressed their opinions at the meeting included Wilfred Wong, Lo Wang Chun, Wong Fai, Cheong Chi Man, Wong Suk Yan, Angela Leong, Lam Chong In, Francis Lui, Linda Chen, Melinda Chan and Tong Kai Chung.