Addressing Monday’s regular press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Deputy Director Cheng Wai Tong announced that the office will add 10 new itineraries from tomorrow to its ongoing subsidised programme for residents joining tour groups organised by travel agencies to tour the city, with one of them featuring helicopter rides for which each resident will have to fork out MOP 398 of his or her own money – on top of the government’s 280-pataca subsidy.
The other nine new itineraries, for which each resident will have to pay between MOP 18 and MOP 108 – on top of the 280-pataca subsidy – will include visits to the Light Rail Transit (LRT) depot in Cotai, private jets parked at the airport, and the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences at the private Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Taipa.
Cheng also said that if a resident has already joined two groups under the programme with the government’s total subsidy of MOP 560, they will not able to benefit from any additional subsidy if they join any of the tours under the 10 new itineraries – i.e. they will need to pay the full price.
The office launched the programme, officially known as “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” in English, on 22 June, initially comprising 15 itineraries in two categories, namely “Community-based Tours” (six itineraries) and “Leisure Tours” (nine itineraries). The programme, which will run until September 30, aims to help the local tourism industry which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the addition of the 10 new itineraries, the programme will comprise 25 itineraries in total from tomorrow.
Under the programme, 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.
On top of the 280-pataca subsidy, each resident has to pay between MOP 18 and MOP 138 to join one of the 15 original itineraries, which include visits to cultural heritage sites, CEM’s power station in Coloane, the Air Macau operations centre, entertainment facilities in the resorts of the six gaming operators, as well as sightseeing boat trips in Macao’s coastal waters, and experiencing the LRT ride in Taipa and Cotai.
Residents can choose to join a tour group under either the “Community-based Tours” or “Leisure Tours” category for their first participation in the programme, after which they will have to choose to join a tour group under the other category. After their two participations in the programme with the 560-pataca subsidy, residents can still join other tour groups in 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 560-pataca subsidy.
During Monday’s press conference, Cheng said that the 10 new itineraries of the programme’s “second phase” will start tomorrow, when residents can start to register with local travel agencies which have joined the programme. The 10 new itineraries consist of seven “Community-based Tours” and three “Leisure Tours”.
According to the programme’s official brochure, residents joining the 398-pataca itinerary featuring a helicopter ride will take off from the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. The helicopter will fly over the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) and the University of Macau (UM) campus on Hengqin Island. The itinerary, the most expensive one among the 25 itineraries, will also include visits to Macau Tower and the Light Night Market at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. The helicopter tour groups will be organised every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
LRT depot, private jet
According to the brochure, the itinerary featuring a visit to the LRT depot, for which each resident will have to pay MOP 38, will also include a visit to Le Garden at The Parisian Macao in Cotai, while the itinerary featuring a visit to the MUST State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, for which each resident will have to pay MOP 108, will also include visits to various other facilities at the university and also The Parisian Macao’s Le Garden. Residents joining the itinerary featuring a visit to the cabin of a private jet, which costs MOP 68, will also visit the Hac Sá Reservoir Natural Park in Coloane and its adjacent “sunflower field”.
Cheng said that MGTO decided to launch the 10 new itineraries to make the programme more attractive.
Meanwhile, Cheng noted that 87,261 people (about 12 per cent of the population) have joined the programme since its launch last month, adding that 34 per cent of them have joined the tour groups under the “Community-based Tours” category while the remaining 66 per cent have joined the tour groups under the “Leisure Tours” category.
Cheng pointed out that the office has been constantly surveying the participants’ opinions on the programme. According to the findings of the survey, 85 per cent of the respondents said that they were satisfied with the itineraries, while 88 per cent of them said that they were satisfied with the tour guides’ performances, and 92 per cent said that they were satisfied with the coach drivers’ services, Cheng said.
Cheng also revealed that initially after the programme was launched, some residents who had joined the tour groups complained that they knew more about the UNESCO-inscribed Historic Centre of Macao sites than the tour guides.
Meanwhile, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, announced during Monday’s press conference that casino frontline workers who have undergone their one-off nucleic acid tests (NAT) arranged by the Health Bureau (SSM) will now have their test results displayed on their Macao Health Code, allowing them to cross the Macao-Zhuhai border.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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