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 1.Dr. Fernando Chui Sai On, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao
SAR Government

shares his views with Macao Image.

Dr.Fernado Chui Sai On, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government shares his views with Macao Image

has become the mainstay of Macao’s economy. The Macao Special Administrative Region Government is determined to develop Macao into an international tourist attraction. With the launching and completion of many large-scale tourism projects and the liberalisation of the casino monopoly regime, Macao will witness tremendous
business opportunities. Dr. Fernando Chui Sai-on, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Government, told Macao Image in a special interview that convention /conference tourism, cultural and sports tourism are the main markets to be explored in the future. The MSAR Government will set aside 50 million patacas for research and training in order to improve service quality in the tourism sector and improve the “hardware ” and “software” of tourism, in preparation for the overall development of Macao’s tourism in the future.

Macao recorded 9.18 million visitor arrivals in 2000, most of them being from Hong Kong, the Chinese Mainland and Taiwan. The visitors mainly spent their money on  entertainment, gambling and food. Dr. Chui pointed out that, according to the Government’s long-term development plan, conference tourism, cultural and  sports tourism and even cross-region tourism are all major areas for exploration in the future.

Exploring New Areas

Dr. Chui emphasised that Macao is fully equipped to hold small, medium-scale as well as international conventions. There are more than 9,000 hotel rooms and conference facilities with a capacity for 4,500 people. New sites like the Macau Tower and the Fisherman’s Wharf will further increase the number of conference facilities. Apart from that, Macao is a unique city that has a long history, a diversified gaming industry and southern European cuisine. Visitors can admire Chinese-style temples and Portuguese-style edifices everywhere in Macao. All this can attract companies  and organisations to hold meetings here.

Besides the “hardware” like conference facilities and tourism sites, “software” like service quality, translation/ interpretation personnel and other facilities are also needed to develop conference tourism. Dr.Chui was quite frank in pointing out that Macao’s biggest obstacle to develop conference tourism is the lack of English translators/interpreters. “English counts a lot for every international city. Macao is quite weak in this respect. That is why the SAR Government has all  along given strong support to the School of Languages and Translation of the Macau Polytechnic Institute. “We should have more and better translators/interpreters by hiring high-calibre lecturers and using quality curriculums so that we can lay the groundwork for developing Macao into an international convention tourism city,” Dr. Chui said.

In order to improve Macao’s tourism service quality, the SAR Government not only supports the training of translators/interpreters, but also plans to re-train  people already working in the tourism service sector to improve their service and linguistic skills. A programme will be launched to make the public aware the importance of the tourism industry  to Macao. Dr. Chui said that the Government will allocate 50 million patacas for these programmes, adding that we, as hosts, should make our guests feel at home, although Macao’s citizens have not yet developed a strong sense about how to receive tourists. Dr. Chui stressed the way visitors are received is very important to tourism, and that all Macao citizens should do a good job as “hosts”. The Government’s Tourist Office will hold a series of big events; named “Macao Welcomes You, The Place Where You Feel at Home” in the autumn. These activities will convey the message to every single citizen that tourism is Macao’s major industry, so that all citizens will attach importance to the development of tourism and to the reception of tourists.

The casino industry has been run exclusively by one company since 1937. The MSAR Government decided to liberalise the casino industry after it assumed office in 1999. Proper research into the  matter has been completed. The liberalisation of the casino industry is expected to further boost the development of tourism in Macao. Dr. Chui revealed that recently a number of international resort chain visited Macao to conduct market studies. The MSAR Government is supportive of the development of tourism and welcomes foreign investment in tourism.

Macao Applies for UNESCO World Heritage Listing

Macao boasts many cultural heritage sites, including the cultural footprint left by Europeans in the Far East. In July 2001, Macao officially launched its candidacy for the inclusion of several of its historical sites in the World Heritage List of the United Nationals Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris. The candidacy is a vital step in creating Macao’s image as a cultural city. The application is expected to be approved by UNESCO in 2003. “This is a very important indicator for a cultural city, and we are fully confident of getting included in the World Heritage List,” Dr. Chui said.

There are many big sporting events in Macao every year. The most famous one is the Formula 3 Grand Prix race, and others are the International Marathon and the World Women’s Volleyball Grand Prix. Preparations for hosting the 2005 East Asian Games in Macao, including the upgrading of existing and construction of new sports facilities, are in full swing.      Dr. Chui believes that sport can promote the development of tourism, since large-scale sports events attract tourists from around the world. To support the development of cultural and sports tourism, the Office of Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture asked the University of Macao earlier this year to develop an “Internet electronic ticketing system”, which will make standardised electronic booking possible and improve the information network about events in Macao.

Visitor Arrivals By Region 1996-2000

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
7,504,09 6,517,679 6,535,475 7,040,47 8,732,612
13,822 11,582 11,113 13,592 16,636
217,766 160,376 109,023 116,312 141,846
AMERICAS 126,305 99,345 97,845 96,968 108,626
EUROPE 219,767 162,684 140,359 137,443 120,907
OCEANS 42,037 32,333 31,677 33,968 36,347
27,267 16,371 23,043 5,167 5,238


2. Macao Boasts Well – Developed Tourism Facilities

The Asian tourism industry has experienced rapid recovery when just years ago Asia was mired in the financial crises. Indeed, many destinations guarantee fully equipped facilities for meetings, together with first class accommodation, easy access, convenient transportation and attractive themes-party ideas. These special advantages in Asia have genuinely lured many visitors from other parts of the world.

Within the Territory’s economy, the tourism sector carries significant weight; it contributes to around 40% of the Gross Domestic Product and employs over one thirdof the working population directly and indirectly.

According to 2000 statistics Macao received more than 9 million visitors surpassing the results of the last few years, an increase of 23% compared to 1999. Tourists visited Macao n record numbers due to improved public security and an overall economic recovery in Asia. Of the 9 million visitors to Macao, nearly 5 million were residents from Hong Kong. Hong Kong has always been a major tourist source market for Macao, while Mainland China, the fastest growing source market provided about 2.3 million arrivals in 2000.

The opening of the Macao International Airport ( MIA ) at the end of 1995 coupled with the major new infrastructure developments, particularly in the hotel industry and the meeting, incentives, convention and exhibition ( MICE ) sector all made an impact on tourism. The MIA gives Macao direct access to the world and with its strategic position as a gateway to China, s well as to the region, has transformed the Territory into a destination in its own right. Macao’s tourism promotion has been focusing on its standing as a final destination in the Pearl River Delta region and a place with its own identity and culture.

Macao also offers the advantages of good service and innovative management. In addition, it is less expensive, less hectic, and conveniently compact compared to oher places in the region. Various forms of transportation are available, and Macao tour perators can make the necessary transfer arrangements.

Besides the existing 4 and 5 star hotels, the Terrritory has an adequate infrastructure for this sector, such as the Forum, the conference centre at the University of Macau, the Tourism Activities and Conference Centre, the World Trade Centre, Macau Landmark and the Macau Cultural Centre. Furthermore, in 2001 the opening of the sophisticated Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre will allow a brand new meeting experience accompanied breathtaking panoramic views of Macao. Macao is set on selling the Territory as a MICE destination and to target further
the previously untapped convention sector as a part of the new marketing strategy.

Over the past few years, Macao has showed stronger development in the MICE sector with we well-equipped with state-of -the-art convention and exhibition facilities and all ecessary infrastructure. Some important events were organised, to name a few: Global Chinese Conference on Computers in Education*99, III Encounter of the Macanese Community, Macao International Trade & Investment Fair, ESCAP/WTO Tourism Week in Macao, PATA Board of Directors Meeting, International Conference on Enhancement & Promotion of Computational Methods in Engineering & Science, the 15th Session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific and Conference for the 99′, Macao International Symposium on Traditional Medicine, Exposition of Information Technology 2000, 3rd Meeting of Secretaries* General of National Commision for UNESCO in East Asia, 2000 WTC Asia Regional Meeting, 5th International Symposium on Asia Juvenile, ESCAP/WMO 33rd Typhoon Committee Session.

In 2001, we already have some events confirmed to be held in Macao, namely: Regional Seminar on Welfare Services for Older Persons-cum-Consultation on Preparation for the Second World Assembly on Aging, Asia-Interprise-“Euro-China Macao 2001”, 8th Asia-Pacific Software Engineering Conference ( APSEC 2001), “New Millennium 2001”, “Gathering of the Macanese Community”, “6th Macao International Trade & Investment Fair,” Conference on “International Academy of Tourism” as well as the World-Wide Chinese Dragon Award Congress.

The rich array of events in Macao help the development of the Territory as a meeting and incentive destination. With all the available facilities and important opportunities emerging, Macao is fully geared to further enhance the MICE industry.


3.Information on the Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition Industry Macao 2000

The Meetings, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition industry analysis for 2000 reported that Macao hosted a total of 248 events *. The number of events revealed an increase of 20.4%. The total number of participants who attended these events also represented a raise of 44.1%. The healthy upturn was resulted from a combination of an improved economic situation in Asia, especially neigbouring Hong Kong and China. The smooth transaction of sovereignty ending up with a glorious handover ceremony had placed Macau into the global spotlight and fully showed its capability in handling world-class events despite its compactness in size and population. Another turning point for the booming market that cannot be neglected was the gradual improvement in the public security that refreshed the territory with new spirit and vitality.

Both of regional events and national events are very important for Macao as the main source markets for the MICE sector are in the Asian region. Last year, the number of corporate meetings recorded a sharp raise in the regional events ( +78.26% ) and national events ( +46.81% ). After the handover, Macao has positioned itself as another Special Administrative Region that strengthens China’s global contact, in particular to the European Union and Portuguese-speaking nations. Reunification with China has provided Macao with substantial opportunities in both commercial and cultural interactions that eventually benefit the overall M.I.C.E market. On the other hand, as nearby Hong Kong has long been regarded as one of the major contributors to the offshore segment. A rebound in its economy inevitably imposed a positive impact on the development of the sector.

The Territory is looking for more business and visitor arrivals from Asian countries. Macau Government Tourism Office has been putting more effort to increase the MICE sector by aggressive marketing, joint-promotion with hotels to offer attractive packages, as well as gaining strong government support in order to explore in full length of the market. Looking to the future, with China’s accession to the WTO, Macao will find itself one of the important intermediaries based upon which foreign businessmen approached for the giant Mainland market. To receive such opportunities, Macao has been progressively preparing itself for the new demand taking shape – improving its M.I.C.E environment by developing new tourism products that include convention and exhibition venues, for example the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre, the Fisherman’s Wharf Complex and the Cultural Activities Centre in Taipa.

In 2000, there were a total of 248 events held in Macao, representing a growth of 20.4% over the previous year. Among those events, 31 were international ( 12.5% ), 139 were regional ( 56.1% ) and 78 were national ( 31.5% ). Both regional events and national events recorded positive smooth, respectively an increase of 67.5% and 14.7% over 1999. Whereas, the international events experienced a setback of -43.7% compared to preceding year.

Corresponding to a raise in the number of events hosted in Macau, the total number of participants also registered an increase of 44.1% over 1999, summing to a total of 20,110 participants in 2000.

Of the total number of participants, 10,743 were from overseas ( 53.4% ) and 9,375 were local attendances ( 46.6% ). A vigorous increase of 129.2% was observed in the total number of local participants as compared to an increase of 8.9% in total overseas participants.

Analyzing the number of participants by type of events, the major contribution was derived from regional events that reviewed a growth of 128.1% over 1999. Strongest growth in overseas participants as well as in local participants could be found under the category of national offshore, marked with a growth of 87.7% and 600% respectively. On the other hand, the number of international event participants unavoidably experienced negative evolution ( -21.6% ) as affected by a drop in the number of events in respective category.

* The events accounted in this report were international, regional and national in scope. Local meetings/events attended only by Macao delegates and sport events were excluded.


4.The Multi-Functional Macau Tower To Open Before the End of 2001

Macau Tower is built on the Nam Van Lakes development area, which was created by massive land reclamation and is facing the Pearl River estuary. From Macau Tower, visitors have a panoramic view of Macao, the Pearl River Delta and several islands in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Apart from the main tower, there are the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre and a big outdoor plaza.

The 10th Highest in the World

Macau Tower is a multi-purpose structure that serves for convention, tourism and entertainment purposes. The height of Macau Tower is 338 metres, ranking 8th in Asia and 10th in the whole world. It is higher than the Sky Tower in Aukland, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the AMP Tower in Sydney. The Macau Towers is only a five minutes drive by car from the Macao Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, and 15 minutes from the Zhuhai-Macao border checkpoint and Macau International Airport.

The Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre has four storeys. As planned, it will mainly be used as a multi-functional convention hall. Its land area covers 1,960 square metres, and its premises can be divided into different areas for different business meetings or other functions at the same time. The centre can accommodate 1,770 people for seminars and conferences, while the number is 1,270 for dinner parties and it can be subdivided into 8 individual meetings or functions with a capacity from 60 to 480. Besides these, there is a 500-seat theatre on the 4th floor that can be used both for arts performances or business functions. There are also facilities for a simultaneous translation in three languages. There are six meeting rooms on the 3rd floor, ranging from 28 square metres to 98.5 square metres. The second floor can be used for exhibitions comprising up to 100 standard booths. The ground floor will be an international gourmet’s centre, while the basement will house variety of shops ranging from souvenirs to fashion and accessories.

Mixture of Chinese and Western Features

Ms. Chan pointed out that although Macau Tower is a modern building, its decor is designed to present certain features of Macao’s history and a mixture of Chinese and Western cultures.

Macau Tower is an international convention and exhibition centre. In order to properly promote the project internationally, Ms. Chan said that its promotion budget will be no less than 4 million Hong Kong dollars, making use of all kinds of media organisations and channels to advertise the Macau Tower.” “We have been to Berlin to study the market. A number of international exhibitions will be held successively to promote the Macau Tower. At the same time, we hope some business meetings from Hong Kong can be held in Macao,” said Ms. Chan. Regarding the project’s market orientation, Ms. Chan pointed out that one should pay attention to the local market first during the initial stage, following the opening of Macau Tower. “Local enterprises and other businesses will disseminate information to the outside world or introduce it to their clients once they know the Macau Tower. Some convention agencies in Europe and America will be contacted in the future,” Ms Chan said.

Ms. Chan also said that the promotion of Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre was already launched some time ago. One of its first meetings will be the Macanese Diaspora in November, with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 participants. Macau Food Fair 2000 was a success and this year, it will be held at the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre. As the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre consists of an outdoor plaza, indoor convention & exhibitions hall and a theatre, a wide range of activities such as exhibitions and seminars will be organized as a complement to the Macau Food Fair, thus enriching this festival with a wider range of activities.

Combining Convention Business and Tourism

Ms Chan said, “many international conventions are combined with tourism. The most attractive point of Macao is the co-existence of Chinese and Portuguese cultures and their heritages. We can combine these cultural characteristics of Macao with tourism to attract more enterprises to Macao to hold conventions here.” However, on the other hand, as Macao does not yet have many direct international air connections, most convention participants will have to come to Macao by ferry from Hong Kong after a long flight. This extends their travelling time and makes their journey more expensive. This puts Macao at a disadvantage.

In recent years Taiwan and the Chinese mainland have become the two biggest convention tourism markets in South East Asia. “The Mainland is one of the markets that we try very hard to penetrate. Some domestic enterprises want to hold their conventions or exhibitions in an outside place that is not very far away, Macao is a very good option. Besides, Macao is very near Hong Kong, and this could attract some Hong Kong businesses to hold small and medium-sized conferences or incentive tours here,” said Ms. Chan.

At present there is no large-scale convention and exhibition centre in Macao. It is widely expected that Macau Tower will become the most important convention, exhibition and tourism venue here once it opens. Ms. Chan said that Macau Tower is destined to establish itself as Macao’s brand-new landmark and tourist attraction . Macau Tower’s biggest advantage will be its excellent quality services for conventions, apart from its manifold indoor and outdoor facilities. Besides, the company deals with different lines of business in Macao, and this enables it to pull its resources and expertise, according to Ms Chan.


5. Macao, an Emerging Convention & Exhibition Centre

Asia’s leader in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions) tourism development was Singapore in the 70s and 80s, and it was joined by Hong Kong in the 90s. The tourism industry is the quickest and the most effective therapy for financial crisis stricken countries. Thailand and Australia have developed their MICE tourism in recent years in order to catch up with other countries. Macao is a city that has already a fully developed tourism industry whose international reputation is on the rise. However, Macao’s MICE industry is still in its infancy.

Tony Lam, Chairman of Macau Fair & Trade Association, told Macao Image that although MICE tourism in Macao is just starting to grow, many big international events have been held in Macao recently. This has enabled Macao to acquire practical experiences in this field. Newly completed convention and exhibition facilities here, such as the Macau Convention Centre, the Cultural Centre, the Macau Tower and other facilities have enhanced Macao’s potential to become an international convention and exhibition centre.

Mr. Lam said, “Macao always wants to improve its conditions as an international convention and exhibition centre in order to attract foreign enterprises to hold internal meetings, annual meetings and exhibitions here. With China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and the opening-up of its market, enterprises all over the world are keeping an eye on the mainland market. Macao is close to this vast market, where costs are low. Macao could promote the development of its MICE industry if it could enhance its existing facilities and services, expand overseas publicity and hold more international events.”

Tony Lam pointed out that international conventions in Macao cost about 50 per cent less than in neighbouring Hong Kong or Taiwan. Macao’s low tax rate, good relations with the European Union and Portuguese-speaking countries, convenient sea, air and land transportation and good hotel accommodation are all factors that support its development as a centre for small and medium — sized conventions.

Several exhibitions will be held in Macao in the second half of 2001, including the Macao International Trade and Investment Fair, Employment Fair, Environmental Protection Exhibition, and the Joint Exhibition of Chambers of Commerce. Mr. Lam said that Macao still lacks specially trained staff in the exhibition design and management areas, adding that staff in the field of MICE industry also lack special knowledge of exhibition and on-site control. In order to improve service quality, the Macau Fair and Trade Association will arrange special courses to provide training opportunities for those working in this business.