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Macao prepares for strong momentum in tourism sector

By CHENG SI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-02 06:46
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Tourists visit the Ruins of St Paul's in China's Macao Special Administrative Region, June 1, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

Tourism operators and insiders said they have full confidence that the industry in the Macao Special Administrative Region will experience strong momentum as the region has achieved stellar performance attracting international and domestic travelers in recent years.

Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, told China Tourism News in a recent interview that the region is expected to receive over 27 million visits this year. The number was around 5.7 million last year, falling by 26 percent from that in 2021, according to figures from the region's Statistics and Census Service.

She said that travelers from the mainland accounted for about 70 percent of the region's tourists in the first 10 months this year. "Mainland travelers have surged since the summer holiday this year," she said.

Because of its closer proximity and more convenient entry policies, Macao has been among the top choices for outbound mainland travelers after the nation relaxed COVID-19 control measures.

According to a report by the China Tourism Academy in August, about 94 percent of mainland travelers paid overseas trips to nearer destinations in Asia in the first half of the year. Among these mainland travelers, nearly 80 percent chose to visit the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan.

"I visited the region three times this year with my friends, mostly to spend the weekend," said Liu Yanli, a 29-year-old from Beijing. "We have no problem with the language and food. It's a shopping paradise for us girls."

Fan Dongxiao, director of travel portal Tuniu's short-distance outbound tours, said that the platform has seen a small growth of tour bookings to the region since March — the time the nation relaxed outbound travel restrictions, while the bookings peaked around July and August.

"Macao highlights the mix and convergence of traditional Chinese culture and Western culture. The region has better and thorough tourism services, offering travelers a good environment of sightseeing, living, shopping and entertaining," she said. "The shorter distance and abundant flights, also the rich accommodation resources and friendliness are attractive to mainland travelers."

She added that the region will see a travel peak from the end of this year till the Spring Festival holiday in February as it has the tradition to organize various celebration activities to welcome the New Year and the Chinese lunar new year.

Moreover, Macao aims to build itself into a world tourism and leisure center by developing industries of healthcare, modern finance, high technology and sports to strengthen its competitiveness.

Senna Fernandes said that the government hopes the added value of the single tourism industry can represent 40 percent of the region's output value in the future.

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