Macau sees decline in Singaporean travellers

MACAU has taken a beating from regional competition for leisure travellers from Singapore, registering a 7.1 per cent dip in arrivals in January and February over the same period last year.

According to Grace Tong, marketing manager of Macau Government Tourist Office-Singapore Representative, Macau welcomed 30,000 Singapore visitors in the first two months of 2012.

Sam How, Asia-Euro Holidays general manager, said attractive airfare promotions for other mid-haul destinations have drawn Singaporean holiday-makers away from Macau.

He said: “Take Japan for instance – airfares have been slashed to recover tourist numbers after the disasters. One could fly to Tokyo for just S$300 (US$241), excluding taxes, which is in the same price range as a flight to Macau.

“Airfares to Hong Kong were also on promotion – S$180 on Hong Kong Airlines and S$195 on Cathay Pacific, making it a worthy competitor of Macau. Although there are campaigns to twin Hong Kong and Macau, and some leisure visitors do take up such arrangements, it is still uncommon. Perhaps travellers find it inconvenient to take the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. Airfare promotions that allow Singaporeans to fly into Macau and leave from Hong Kong are not seeing strong take-ups.”

How was referring to an arrangement among carriers such as Air Macau, Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific to offer special fares that allow passengers to enter and exit either Hong Kong and Macau airports on different airlines.

High room rates and limited room supply over the weekends, a result of Macau’s strong Chinese arrivals, were also factors contributing to the declining demand from Singapore, noted a director of a Singapore travel company that handles leisure and incentive business.

Tong added that the softening demand out of Singapore was also due to Jetstar’s pull-out. The low-cost carrier had suspended its direct services between Singapore and Macau since February 6, leaving Tiger Airways and Air Macau to fly the route.

However, she expects the recent opening of Macau’s fourth integrated resort, Sands Cotai Central, to generate leisure and incentive interest from Singapore and lift arrival numbers.

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