Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tourism and leisure is an important cornerstone for Macao’s economic sustainability and part of regional development strategy supported by the Central Government. With the concerted efforts made by the Macao SAR Government and all walks of life, building Macao into a world tourism and leisure center is making steady progress with remarkable achievements. Macao has successfully attracted visitors from all over the world with its distinctive entertainment, recreation, cultural resources and trade center despite its limited geographical area. In 2017 alone, Macao received inbound tourists of up to 32mn, up by 5.4% year on year. Among them, tourists staying overnight exceeded 17mn, up by 9.9% year on year. This is truly something every Chinese including all Macao compatriots feel proud of.
Any success comes from hard work and diligent efforts. These achievements can never be accomplished without in-depth understanding by the city leadership and the public agencies of tourism rules, the consensus Macao citizens and all sectors of the community have had on the tourism concepts such as “Life is above landscape“ and “Both Hosts and Guests Enjoy “ , as well as the efforts made by them. In last Nov., Macao was rated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Creative Cities of Gastronomy. Visitors and residents here in Macao can have access to free WiFigo and public libraries, and receive the World Cultural Heritage Map at the pass. Even professional research institutes like us admire so many generous positive comments visitors have given Macao on the city’s human touch and inclusiveness. For example, “What touches me most is when I told a sewer cleaning worker in Macao that I was not a local but I had an ID, he answered quite naturally that “You are Macanese as long as you have an ID.” This is one thing that makes me feel Macao is more inclusive than many cities in the Mainland. “ The statement that people are the most beautiful scenery is demonstrated best in Macao.
The practical exchanges and cooperation in tourism business between Macao and Mainland China and between Macao and Hong Kong have laid a solid foundation of steady markets for Macao as a world tourism and leisure center. In 2017, Macao received the Mainland tourists of up to 22.20mn, accounting for 68.1% of inbound tourists; Macao tourists to the Mainland reached 22.15mn, accounting for 16% of all tourists the Mainland received. Although the exchange of the tourists between Hong Kong and Macao has declined in the number of tourists, they are the second largest source market next to the Mainland.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With the achievements in mind, we have also paid attention to the future direction and improvement room of Macao’s tourism and leisure industry. By Looking at the data, it is found that the number of first-time tourists to Macao made up for 59.3% of its total, two-time tourists 21.9% and one-day tourists up to 47.1%, including half of them staying for no longer than six hours. The spending per capita was 1526 patacas in 2005 and 1990 patacas in 2017. This amounts to little increase considering the price rise and weakened exchange rate.
Judging by the satisfaction of Mainland tourists to Macao monitored by China Tourism Academy, Macao ranks slightly-below-middle place among all tourist destinations, with the overall score to be much raised. According to the comments given online, the Mainland tourists speak highly of Macao in terms of booking, travel service, hotel quality, food, transport and pricing, and especially local residents’ hospitality, while speaking relatively low of scenic spots, leisure and recreation, shopping and administration. In my opinion, this is due largely to Macao having small area, limited capacity and un-diversified industrial structure. These are reflected in the issues that the potential tourists are most concerned about when planning a trip to Macao, including how to experience the most distinctive Macao in one day? What is the best route of one-day tour in Macao? How does it feel to gamble at casino? Can we pay using Alipay or WeChat? Are there any places in the evening which are full of fun and safe ? The comments on the iconic spot - Ruins of St. Paul focus on “too many people”, just like a clock-in point for first-time visitors. As for the shopping environment, many people report that the shops in Macao have low cost-performance ratio and even cheat or overcharge the tourists.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is open to traffic and the national strategy of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has been carried out, there will be an increasing number of people travelling between Macao, Hong Kong and city clusters in Pearl River Delta Region, more tourism activities and industrial cooperation, and the most importantly, the consolidated support given by the Central Government to Macao. Either the building of the world tourism and leisure center, or the planning of future tourism development strategy needs to deepen study and give reconsideration in the context of national strategy and taking into account the upcoming “Golden Three-hour Sightseeing Circle”. In 2017, the Hong Kong visitors to Macao dropped to less than 20% and their stay duration declined to 0.9 day. The realistic matter deserving in-depth research is how to effectively raise the re-visit rate of the locals living in the Greater Bay Area, prolong their stay and optimize the leisure spending structure.
Guangdong -Hong Kong - Macao Greater Bay Area encompassing nine cities and two SARs boasts ever-maturing transport network and provides easy accessibility for travelers in the Area. Its already developed urban rail transport network, coupled with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to be open to traffic tomorrow and the Shenzhen - Zhongshan Channel to be completed soon will form a close loop of fast highways linking Shenzhen-Guangzhou, Guangzhou - Foshan, and Zhuhai - Macao economic circles. Next, we need to facilitate the interconnection of laws, supervision and policies between the three regions, for example, mutual recognition of vehicle license plates and driver’s licenses, facilitated registration of vehicles entering Macao from other cities (excluding Shenzhen), as well as the organic connection of public transport systems.
Based on infrastructure interconnection and thriving people-to-people exchanges, Macao may rely on the Mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area as tourism to attract tourists from Southwest China and South-Central China. In 2017, Guangdong contributed to the largest share of the Mainland tourists to Macao, reaching 9mn person/times. Next was Hunan Province which had more than 1 mn tourists to Macao in the same year. This means the tourist source markets beyond Guangdong have considerable values for exploration. In the context where individual cities are increasingly becoming independent tourist destinations, Macao can join the Mainland cities, especially those in the Greater Bay Area to make combined efforts to carry out tourism promotion and marketing activities.
Relying on the developed infrastructure and business resources in the Area, especially Zhuhai, we need to deepen the cooperation in tourism industry to break the constraints of small geographical areas and low accommodation capacity. Promoting community tourism can certainly raise the micro-economy’s bearing capacity of social culture, but the current population density and small area has made it unsustainable for Macao to receive the constantly growing number of tourists. Just imagine. In the daytime, the tourists walk around the blocks to taste delicious food and visit scenic spots. In the evening, some choose to continue to go sightseeing and stay overnight, others either take bus, or drive through Hong Kong - Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, or go on foot through Gongbei Customs to Hengqin Island, Zhuhai or Hong Kong for night snacks and stay overnight there, and then come back to Macao to experience the local leisure life. Looking from the supply side, Zhuhai has coastal holiday resorts, large-scale theme parks, river network and wetland and other ecological resources, are perfectly complementary to Macao’s gambling industry, distinctive food and leisure culture.
Mature commercial system and high-quality living environment, as well as the self-formed leisure atmosphere are the guarantee for Macao’s purpose, orientation and sustainability as an international tourism and leisure center. A good tourist destination needs space expansion and content creation. The experience learned from the world tourism and leisure cities indicates that relatively adequate material basis, quality-seeking life attitude for high quality and modern government level are the key factors. Compared to Tokyo’s flourishing , Paris’ fashion and Hong Kong’s bustling hurry, life in Macao looks more tranquil and calm. At present, the proportion of self-guided tour among tourists to Macao is 83%, including 50% of young people aged 26-35. They would prefer to visiting Macao during Christmas and/or Valentine’s Day to experience European and American sentiment, mainly for shopping, savoring gourmet food and watching art performance. As tourists increasingly enter public life space and leisure facility in their destinations, the leisure temperament and the connection of people it attracts will definitely turn into the beautiful scenery and good life tourists admire to have.
The contemporary tourism economy cannot go without the new driving forces generated by mobile Internet, Artificial Intelligence, big data, culture creativity and sharing economy. The Mainland tourism industry has constantly implemented innovation in technology, market and management. By contrast, Macao does not have many Internet businesses with limited talent pool, thus having difficulty supporting and leading the entrepreneurship and innovation in tourism and leisure industry in a short time. To seize the opportunity brought by the construction of the Greater Bay Area and push forward the building of the world tourism and leisure center in Macao, Macao needs to speed up in this aspect by improving relevant laws and strengthening supervision by laws on the one hand, and on the other hand, expand the exchanges with professionals in Hong Kong and the Mainland with inclusive concepts, and promote innovative development of local commercial institutions.
As Karl Marx said, consumption is not entirely the reproduction of labor force and real consumption is a process of humanity restoration. When the world tourism and leisure center meets the Guangong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and good life is linked to cultural building and tourism development, Macao is raising the curtains of tourism development in the new era.