The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced on Tuesday that a subsidised programme for local residents joining tour groups organised by local travel agencies to travel around the city will run from next Monday until September 30.
Each Macao resident – both permanent and non-permanent residents – will receive a subsidy of MOP 280 from the government’s Macau Foundation (FM) each time they join a tour group. They can receive a subsidy of up to MOP 560 for the programme so that they can join the programme twice thanks to the government’s subsidy.
The programme aims to maintain the livelihoods of local travel agencies, tour guides, coach drivers and other related staff in the travel industry while also benefiting local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The office held a press conference on Tuesday detailing the programme following its announcement during Monday’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre press conference.
Tuesday’s press conference at the Macao Science Center (MSC) was co-hosted by MGTO Deputy Director Cheng Wai Tong and Macau Foundation (FM) Vice President Zhong Yi Seabra de Mascarenhas. A number of representatives from the local tourism industry were also present.
According to Cheng, residents can register from today with local travel agencies which have joined the programme. The tour groups will be organised between next Monday and September 30.
The programme, officially known as “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” in English, comprises 15 itineraries in two categories, namely “Community-based Tours” (six itineraries) and “Leisure Tours” (nine itineraries), Cheng said.
Literally translated, the programme is known as “Heart let’s go, travel in Macao” in Chinese. In Portuguese, it is known as “Vamos! Macau!”. Several readers have told the Macau Post Daily that they believed that the English slogan “Macao Ready Go” is grammatically incorrect. Instead, they proposed alternative slogans such as “Macao – ready to go” or “Macao is ready, let’s go!”.
According to the programme’s official brochure on the MGTO website, each resident will have to pay between MOP 18 and MOP 118 to join one of the six “Community-based Tours”, while they will have to pay between MOP 68 and MOP 138 to join one of the nine “Leisure Tours”. The government will pay the travel agencies a subsidy of MOP 280 for each resident taking part in any of the tours.
In addition to cultural heritage sites or other venues of historic significance and museums, the tour groups under the “Community-based Tours” category will also include visits to CEM’s power station in Coloane and the Air Macau operations centre, as well as sightseeing boat trips in Macao’s coastal waters, according to the brochure.
According to the brochure, the tour groups under the “Leisure Tours” category will include visits to entertainment facilities in the resorts of the six gaming operators as well as “natural sites”, in addition to experiencing a Light Rail Transit (LRT) ride in Taipa and Cotai.
According to Cheng, residents can choose to join a tour group under either the “Community-based Tours” or “Leisure Tours” category for first participation in the programme, after which they will have to choose to join a tour group under the other category.
Cheng said that after their two participations in the programme with the MOP-560 subsidy, residents can join other tour groups under the programme, but they will need to pay the full price. Non-locals can also join the programmes but will not be able to benefit from the government’s MOP-560 subsidy.
Cheng said that his office expects each tour group to have 30 to 40 participants. The tour groups will depart from the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal in Zape or the Taipa Ferry Terminal, where the participants will have to confirm their attendance by presenting their ID cards.
Cheng said that all participants must wear a facemask and have their temperature checked, adding that the tour guides will also have to wear a facemask during the tours, and receive a training session on COVID-19 prevention measures before they can work for the programme.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Macau Travel Industry Council President Wong Fai said that 148 local travel agencies have joined the programme, adding that he expects 500 coach drivers and 750 tour guides to take part in the programme.
Wong also said that if a participant is unable to join the tour group due to illness or other special reasons, they can only have the fee refunded after presenting a medical certificate or another kind of document proving the special reason.
Macao’s travel industry has been severely affected since late January by the economic impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © TDM