Any attempts to curb Macau’s visitor numbers would affect the city’s international tourism image, Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said Monday.
Asked by reporters on the sidelines of a blessing ceremony at the Anim’Arte NAM VAN lakeside leisure space, Senna Fernandes said any such initiative would have to be carefully studied.
“How could we establish such criteria? The free entry of people is a way of measuring the city’s openness and limiting certain people’s entry would impact the image of Macau,” Senna Fernandes said, adding that Macau recorded over 35 million visitor arrivals last year, a new record. In 2017, Macau recorded 32.6 million visitor arrivals.
Senna Fernandes said that she was still waiting for the final visitor arrival statistics from the Immigration Department. She pointed out that the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) last October resulted in a further increase in visitor arrivals in the last two months of 2018, resulting in year-on-year growth of 10 percent in both months.
According to Senna Fernandes, last year’s number of visitor arrivals rose by about 9 percent, which exceeded the government’s expectations of a growth of just three percent.
Senna Fernandes said that Macau needed to improve its infrastructures to be able to receive such a large number of visitors, namely in the area of public transport. She said that the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system, slated to open this year, would help improve the situation. However, she was quick to add that Macau needed to improve its taxi service.
Senna Fernandes also brushed aside the idea of charging tourists an admission fee to enter Macau, such as in Venice and Japan. Macau’s top tourism official said such an admission fee was primarily aimed at raising funds for infrastructure improvement projects, rather than at reducing the number of visitor arrivals.
According to government-owned broadcaster TDM, lawmaker Agnes Lam Iok Fong recently suggested that Macau charge visitors an admission fee.
Senna Fernandes made the remarks on the sidelines of a blessing ceremony for this weekend’s cooking show at the Anim’Arte space.
During the cooking show, 30 chefs from 20 UNESCO-listed Creative Cities of Gastronomy will offer free tidbits at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday. The chefs are from cities in Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Panama, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and the US. The Chinese mainland will be represented by Chengdu and Shunde.
According to an MGTO statement, the outdoor culinary show is a highlight of the “International Gastronomy Forum, Macau 2019”, and one of the celebrations of this year’s 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to the motherland.