The government will choose quality over quantity for its tourism development plans and will not be “blindly chasing” tourist numbers, the Office of the Government Spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.
Legislator-cum-unionist Kwan Tsui Hang and New Macau Association (NMA) President Scott Chiang MengHin separately criticized the government on Tuesday for its response to official data that showed that the number of visitor arrivals was down 3.5 percent year-on-year to 17.4 million in the first seven months of this year.
The government’s initial response to the decline was by vowing that it would work on getting back to the former arrival numbers.
Kwan, a senior member of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions, in an group interview on Tuesday urged the government to refrain from “blindly chasing” higher visitor arrivals numbers.
According to the statement, the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) estimated earlier this year that the total number of tourists for this year would be roughly the same as last year.
In 2014, Macau recorded 31.5 million visitor arrivals, up 7.5 percent from 2013. Mainlanders and Hongkongers accounted for 67.4 percent and 20.4 percent of all visitor arrivals last year.
Affected by external influences, such as the mainland’s economic slowdown, Macau has recorded a year-on-year decline since March in the number of visitor arrivals every month.
Wednesday’s statement added that despite the drop in visitor arrival numbers, MGTO officials had noticed an “optimistic growth” in tourists’ length of stay for the first seven months of the year, from two days to 2.2 days.
The statement insisted that the government would not pursue rapid growth in tourist numbers, but would instead focus on a change in the mode of tourism, so as to be able to continue the sector’s improvement and to broaden Macau’s global appeal.