MACAU - Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes opened the Macao Government Tourism Office’s annual press conference saying the MGTO has numerous ideas and events for 2020.
Speaking to an audience of approximately 400 travel trade participants, she outlined making Macau a smarter destination – visitors can expect a new one-stop Macao Travel app – building on the popularity of Macanese cuisine via the Creative City of Gastronomy award, launching new products, including the Macao Grand Prix Museum and enhancing overall quality of tourism experiences.
“Only when our tourists feel at home here will they be more attracted to come back next time,” said Ms de Senna Fernandes. “So, we will spend more resources on training our tour guides and help them enhance the quality of service. And we will implement new tour guiding service in heritage and tourism attractions.”
Clearly many visitors already feel at home in Macau. The figures for 2019 showed record-breaking arrivals up 10.1% to 39.4 million, just shy of 40 million, with same-day visitors and overnighters both increasing.
Ms De Senna Fernandes gave credit to the popularity of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge for balancing repercussions from China-US relations and Hong Kong’s social unrest during 2019.
2020 will focus on increasing high-quality overnight visitors and launching new products like the Macao Grand Prix Museum, which is slated to open mid-year. The city is also hoping to enhance the appeal of maritime and aquatic activities.
Ice W T Ho, manager of EGL Tours Macau, also highlighted the new LRT. “Apart from improving transport, it is a very cool place for sightseeing around the Cotai area.”
Multi-destination travel with cities within the Greater Bay Area will be key, hence reopening the inner harbour ferry terminal to attract visitors from Zhuhai and the increasing links and promotions with Hengqin, where tourists can visit the theme park and resorts.
Collaborating with airlines to creating open jaw tickets to use Macau as a second destination is also on the drawing board.
A few thousand rooms will open up in 2020, mostly in the economy segment.
By looking at the last two months of 2019 when there was a decrease of arrivals (approximately 10%), Ms De Senna Fernandes predicted that the city could see a 3% decrease in visitor arrivals in 2020.
“It is hard to compare this year with 2019 as there are new factors which influence the rate of tourism,” she said, adding, “I am not predicting a huge increase in tourism numbers this Chinese New Year.
“Last year was an excellent year because the inaugural bridge attracted tourists to Macau. This year we predict a slight decrease.”