Macau hosted a record 35.8 million visitor arrivals last year, a year-on-year increase of 9.8 percent, the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced Wednesday citing official figures released by the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC) on the same day.
On average, 98,092 visitors arrived in Macau every day last year.
According to an MGTO statement, 400 travel industry and media representatives attended a press conference about last year’s tourism developments and projects and prospects for this year. The annual press conference at Macau Tower was headed by MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes.
“Against the global backdrop of political uncertainty, the local tourism industry demonstrated fair performance overall in 2018, bolstered by the inauguration of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and concerted efforts among different tourism sectors,” the MGTO statement said.
According to official statistics, overnight visitors accounted for 51.6 percent of the total number of visitor arrivals last year, up 7.2 percent year-on-year. Same-day visitors rose 12.7 percent.
Visitors’ average length of stay remained unchanged year-on-year at 1.2 days. On average, overnight visitors stayed for 2.2 days.
91 pct of visitors are from mainland, HK, Taiwan
Mainlanders, Hongkongers and Taiwanese accounted for 70.5 percent, 17.6 percent and 2.9 percent of all visitor arrivals last year, up 13.8 percent, 2.6 percent and 0.1 percent respectively. The three Chinese regions accounted for 91 percent of Macau’s total number of visitor arrivals last year.
South Korea continued to be Macau’s number one source of foreign visitors, rising 7 percent to 812.842, or 2.3 percent of all visitor arrivals.
A total of 201,810 US citizens visited Macau last year, up 8.3 percent. Each of the other foreign visitor segments remained under the 100,000 threshold.
Guangdong residents made up 41.6 percent of the total number of mainlanders who visited Macau last year.
Following the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Bridge bridge on October 24 last year, 1.05 million visitors entered Macau via the mega-bridge, the point of entry which received the second largest number of visitors during the period.
The Zhuhai-Macau Barrier Gate land-border checkpoint handled 18.2 million visitor arrivals last year, a year-on-year growth of 13.2 percent. In total, 22.15 million visitors arrived by land.
In the wake of the opening of the delta bridge, the number of visitor arrivals by sea fell 7.8 percent to 10.3 million last year.
Some 3.29 million visitors arrived by plane or helicopter, up 20.1 percent.
A total of 3.56 million visitors arrived last month, up 16.9 percent year-on-year and 9.3 percent month-to-month, hitting a new monthly record. On average, 115,155 visitors arrived in Macau in December.
Senna Fernandes also announced her office’s four “major goals” for this year.
The first goal is to deepen Macau’s development as a UNESCO-recognised “Creative City of Gastronomy, such as by setting up a Macanese cuisine database and fostering the development of the local catering industry, based on its heritage, innovation and exchanges.
The term “Macanese” is customarily used to denote Macau’s Eurasian culture and cuisine. Macanese cookery is one of the world’s oldest fusion cuisines, comprising Portuguese, Chinese, Malay, Indian and other recipes.
The first goal also plans to launch “gourmet food tour products”.
The second goal is to maximise Macau’s “unique resource advantages” and participate in the central government’s Greater Bay Area (GBA) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) tourism development, such as by developing Macau into a tourism education and training base in the Greater Bay Area, conduct visitor behaviour studies, promote multi-destination travel, and leverage regional cooperation mechanisms.
The third goal is to promote smart tourism development and optimise Macau’s tourism quality, such as by launching a “chatbot” equipped with tourism information and a newly-designed Macau tourism promotion website, apart from continuing the fight against illegal inns and implementing real-time monitoring at scenic spots and congested locations to divert visitor flows.
According to Wikipedia, a chatbot is a computer programme which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods.
The fourth goal is to complete the revamp of the Macau Grand Prix Museum and to organise various mega-celebratory events this year. Senna Fernandes told the press conference that the museum was slated to open before December 20, when Macau marks the 20th anniversary of its return to the motherland.
Senna Fernandes said that the first phase of the reconstruction project had cost the government already 100 million patacas. The whole project, which will feature virtual reality (VR), multimedia and artificial intelligence (AI), has been budgeted at around 380 million patacas, according to previous government statement.
The celebratory events include large-scale promotions in Portugal in line with the Year of China in the Iberian nation that administered Macau for some four centuries. MGTO officials also plan to “support and assist the travel trade in the development of maritime tourism products.”
The press conference forecast an increase in visitor arrivals of 5 or 6 percent this year, or up to 38 million.
Senna Fernandes said her office was keen to attract more foreign tourists, namely form Northern and Eastern European countries.
Foreign tourists – i.e. visitors other than mainland Chinese, Hongkongers and Taiwanese – accounted for about 9 percent of the total number of visitor arrivals last year.
Senna Fernandes also said Macau’s transport links with Hong Kong’s international airport needed to be improved, such as by launching direct bus routes via the delta bridge and reducing immigration procedures.