Visitor numbers are expected to grow five percent this year, from 31.5 million last year to 33 million this year, even as the city’s gaming revenue is falling, Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said Wednesday.
Senna Fernandes made the remark during the office’s annual press conference at Macau Tower where she announced that the city’s visitor arrivals last year topped 31.5 million, a 7.5 percent growth year-on-year.
This year’s total budget for the office amounts to 303.6 million patacas.
“We thought it would be a low single-digit growth for last year’s visitor arrivals but it turned out to be quite high,” Senna Fernandes said, adding, “Gaming revenue has not been at its best for the last six months but visitor arrivals continued to rise [and] mainland visitors were still going strong in the second half of last year so it’s encouraging to see that visitors are not coming to Macau just to gamble.”
According to the presentation, about 21 million mainlanders visited Macau last year, a year-on-year growth of 14.1 percent. Some 42 percent of them came from Guangdong province.
Mainlanders accounted for two thirds of all visitor arrivals last year.
Among international visitors, South Koreans were the number one, rising 16.9 percent year-on-year to 550,000. However, the overall number of international visitors dropped by 1.1 percent.
The category of international visitors does not include Macau’s compatriots from the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Visitor arrivals from Hong Kong dropped five percent to 6.4 million last year. Senna Fernandes attributed the drop to the difficulty of booking hotel rooms and the lack of new hotels.
Senna Fernandes said her office would be using celebrities, bloggers and social networks to reach international and Hong Kong visitors, launching new walking routes to give visitors new reasons to visit the city.
In addition, with the expected opening of two casino-hotel resorts later this year, Macau’s tourism carrying capacity would be raised and with new attractions added to the market, Senna Fernandes said, estimating that this year’s visitor arrivals would grow five percent.
Melco Crown’s Studio City and Galaxy’s Phase 2 in Cotai are scheduled to open this year.
“There are still many aspects that would affect this [estimate],” she said, citing the drop in the euro and Japanese yen that might deter visitors fromboth markets to visit Macau as the currency depreciation would push up travel expenses from them. (macaunews/macaupost)