Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said on Tuesday that the travel sector was discussing the arrangements for possible tour cancellations resulting from the government’s new travel alert system, adding that her office was paying close attention to the discussions.
The government published the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Travel Alert System in the Official Gazette on Monday, stating that the system, promulgated as an executive order, will become effective on March 7.
The three-level system covers 77 foreign countries and regions which are popular, according to the government.
The mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan are excluded from the list as they aren’t foreign destinations.
Level 1 represents an imminent threat to personal safety. Level 2 means that the threat to personal safety is elevated. Level 3 represents the presence of an extreme threat to personal safety.
Senna Fernandes made the remarks on the sidelines of a banquet hosted by the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS), which celebrated its 50th anniversary, at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf Convention & Exhibition Centre. Senna Fernandes said the travel sector was divided on the issue of tour cancellations resulting from the travel alert system when discussing the issue last week.
Senna Fernandes pointed out that “in the regions near Macau, it’s the travel agencies which decide [whether to go ahead with the tours in spite of a travel alert]. It’s hard for [the government] to make an overall arrangement as there are many agencies in the market.” She added that the government would pay close attention to the tourism sector’s discussions about the issue.
According to Senna Fernandes, the government will not force the city’s travel agencies to cancel their tours if the travel alert is issued. “The travel alert system is only an advisory. It cannot restrict one’s freedom [to travel].”