The central government’s newly appointed most senior representative in Macau, Li Gang, said yesterday that the city was able to cope with the current number of visitor arrivals, which he described as “appropriate,” but he also stressed that Macau must offer its tourists a quality service.
Li, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Macau, also warned that Macau should not just pursue ever higher visitor arrivals numbers which otherwise could become a heavy burden to society.
Li, who took up his new post earlier this month, also said that he and other Liaison Office staff would often visit the local community to listen to residents and then reflect their opinions to the central government.
According to The Macau Post Daily, Li made the remarks on the sidelines of a reception hosted by the Liaison Office at Macau Tower to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Over 100 guests including Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On and former chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), senior government officials, lawmakers and community leaders attended the cocktail reception
Asked by reporters as to whether there would be more cities in the mainland allowed to implement the “individual visit scheme”, he said that Macau should consider its overall visitor capacity.
The scheme began in July 2003 in response to the SARS crisis. It allows mainlanders to visit Hong Kong and Macau on an individual basis. Prior to the scheme, most mainlanders could only visit Hong Kong and Macau on business visas or in group tours. The main reason for the central government to launch the scheme was to boost the economies of Hong Kong and Macau
“The total number of visitors last year exceeded 28 million. I think this year it will be over 30 million; based on the current situation and considering the city’s visitor capacity I think the current number of visitors is appropriate,” Li said, adding that Macau has about a 100 hotels which provide about 22,000 rooms.
According to official statistics, Macau’s 98 hotels and guesthouses had 27,773 guestrooms at the end of November.
Currently, residents from 49 mainland cities are allowed to visit Macau and Hong Kong individually.
“It is very important to guarantee visitors a quality service …… to provide them with good accommodation and ensure they have fun. If the number of visitors is increased haphazardly, it may turn into a heavy burden to society, as well as the life of locals,” Li said.
Li, who until his promotion by the central government earlier this month was a vice-director of the Liaison Office in Macau, said he believed that the local government will further diversify the city’s economy and strengthen supervision of the gaming industry by improving regulations so that the sector will develop healthily and orderly.
Talking to reporters, Li also said that the Liaison Office was changing its approach towards carrying out its duties including its officials wanting to further understand the local community and what residents wished from the central and local governments.
“We will visit the [local] community more often, contact different sectors to understand what locals want from the central government and what they hope the local government will do for them. Then we will pass on what we hear from residents to the central government,” Li said, adding, “I often visit the community; not only me but all officials [of the Liaison Office] will visit the community to listen to what locals want……
and then reflect their views to the central government.