South Korea and Russia are two markets that the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) will be focusing on this year as part of expanding the city’s visitor profile, the new bureau’s director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said Tuesday.
She also said that the bureau planned to set up a representative office in Russia.
The bureau held its annual press conference at Macau Tower Tuesday where Senna Fernandes said that MGTO’s budget this year will be 243 million patacas, apart from 21.8 million patacas for project investments and 975.6 million patacas for thecity’s Tourism Fund.
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U and about 500 MGTO representatives and partners in the travel industry from around the world attended the meeting.
According to Senna Fernandes, Macau recorded a mere 0.3 percent year-on-year growth in visitor arrivals to a record 28 million last year. Although it was not a big increase, she pointed out the five percent growth in overnight stay visitors to over 13 million, accounting for 48.4 percent of last year’s total visitor arrivals.
She forecast that this year’s growth in the total number of visitor arrivals would be similar to last year. She ruled out the possibility of a decrease.
While some 25 milion visitors last year were from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, accounting for around 89 percent of the total, Senna Fernandes pointed out that visitor arrival numbers from South Korea and Thailand both jumped significantly last year, recording 11 percent and 17.8 percent increases respectively.
According to official statistics, 400,623 South Koreans visited Macau in the first 11 months of last year, an 11.2 percent year-on-year increase. The number of Thai visitors rose 13.9 percent to 203,958 during the 11-month period.
In addition, South Korea grew into Macau’s fourth biggest source market for package tours, following mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while Russia topped the list with the highest growth rate in package-tour visitor arrivals last year, with a growth of 122.9 percent between January and November.
“As markets in Asia will have a relatively stable financial situation, we shall be focusing more on these but it does not mean we will not be promoting Macau to long-haul destinations,” she was quoted by The Macau Post Daily as saying.
Senna Fernandes, who succeeded Joao Manuel Costa Antunes at the helm of the government’s tourist office last month, also said that 46 of the city’s 102 hotels offered budget accommodation, pointing out that the total number of 26,719 guestrooms included 1,480 budget-accommodation rooms.
Senna Fernandes told reporters after the press conference that she will pay special attention to the city’s so-called “tourism carrying capacity.”
A recent study conducted by the Institute For Tourism Studies (IFT) put the maximum sustainable number of Macau’s visitor arrivals at 29 million per year.
Senna Fernandes said that the number should not be used as a cap but be regarded as a reference because it changes in line with developments, such as new hotels, infrastructure, flight routes and longer operating hours at cross-border checkpoints.
Senna Fernandes also said that the bureau was working on diverting the flow of visitors from crowded sightseeing sites such as the St. Paul’s Ruins to the city’s quieter quarters and the northern neighbourhoods that also have their own characteristics.(macaunews)