Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said Sunday that the temporary closure of Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel in Taipa won’t have a negative impact on Macau’s image as an international tourist destination.
Tam said the hotel’s six-month closure by the government on Friday was necessary as the condition of the property constituted a public safety threat.
Tam added that instead it would have had a negative impact on Macau’s image if the government had not implemented measures to force the hotel’s temporary closure.
Tam spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the International Youth Dance Festival 2016 at the Ruins of St Paul’s.
The Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) announced on Friday that it would implement a raft of measures to close down the hotel for six months from the next day.
Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel, formerly known as New Century Hotel, is a five-star hotel which opened in 1992. The hotel, renamed in 2014, has some 580 rooms.
MGTO said in a statement on Friday that it decided to implement the measures because the hotel failed to meet fire safety standards, such as blocked exits and an inadequate number of fire extinguishers, thereby “posing a threat to public safety” and “harming the image” of Macau’s tourism industry.
According to the statement, it was the first time that the government decided to temporarily close down a five-star hotel in Macau.
MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said at a press conference on Friday that the hotel failed to take measures to improve although her office had issued many warnings and fined the hotel repeatedly from 2014.
The hotel’s operator published a statement in local Chinese-language newspapers on Saturday saying that it was “shocked” that the government “abruptly” announced the previous day that the hotel had to close down for six months.
The operator, known in Chinese as Macau Hotel Investment Co. Ltd, said in the statement that since a new management team took over the hotel in January, it had kept striving to tackle the problems left from previous years. It also said it had actively tried to meet the government’s requirements during that time.
Tam stressed that the decision to implement the measures was not made hastily. He said that MGTO, the Fire Services Bureau (CB) and a string of other government entities had carried out inspections of the hotel and issued warnings many times, requesting its management to make improvements.
Tam said it had therefore been necessary to temporarily close down the hotel which, he said, had failed to meet the “essential” requirements to stay in business.
Tam also said that the temporary closing-down of the hotel was a one-off incident, adding that the city’s other hotels were performing well.
Saturday’s statement also said that some 1,000 tourists left the hotel on Friday and Saturday before MGTO sealed off the hotel on Saturday afternoon.
Local tourism sector representatives told reporters on Friday they estimated that some 30 local travel agents had booked some 200,000 rooms in the hotel for the next two years.