Food is taking the spotlight in Macao Government Tourism Office’s (MGTO) destination marketing campaigns this year as the destination celebrates its designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.
In mid-January, MGTO kicked off the 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy campaign, one of the highlights in Macau’s four-year plan to strengthen its reputation for good food.
Several activities are lined up, including the hosting of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 awards ceremony from March 25 to 27. A gastronomy zone will be set up within the 6th Macao International Tourism (Industry) Expo, where cooking demonstrations of Macanese dishes will be conducted.
Food-related films will also make a mark at the 3rd International Film Festival & Awards through the Food Special Presentation.
The heightened food focus will also be seen in the existing Step Out, Experience Macao’s Communities – Walking Tour Routes programme. New in-depth walking routes will stress culinary experiences.
According to an MGTO spokesman, culinary tour packages will be jointly launched with overseas travel agencies, while additional support from the bureau will be given to local catering businesses.
The MGTO spokesperson added: “ The (UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy) designation can reinforce a stronger international brand identity on top of The Historic Centre of Macao.”
Bruno Simoes, executive director of destination expert smallWORLD Experiences, said gastronomy tourism is gaining traction worldwide, and “food and wine-related services and events attract greater numbers of tourists each year”.
“The recognition of the uniqueness of Macanese cuisine is only good news for us, as is the focus on gastronomy. It’s another selling point for Macau (in European markets),” Simoes added, pointing out that European travellers are not lured by huge integrated resorts and prefer “authentic and modest things”.
For his European clients, smallWORLD Experiences is launching a two-hour long Macao Walking Tours as well as a variant food tour.
The new MGM Cotai is making inroad in Europe, having locked in a few groups from the region. It will be working closely with MGTO to promote Macau as a city of gastronomy.
Vice president of resort sales, Victoria Fuh, told TTG Asia that her resort is a gastronomy heaven in itself, with “nine dining concepts covering a wide range of regional Chinese cuisines” as well as four resturants helmed by globally acclaimed chefs.
Rutger Verschuren, Artyzen Hospitality Group vice president and general manager for Grand Lapa Macau, believes that Macau’s compact size makes the destination a perfect one for gastronomy exploration.
“Macau is so small that it takes only a few minutes to travel from point A to point B and try all kinds of different food around town,” he remarked.
Grand Lapa Macau, too, dangles new, delicious draws. “We have renovated and reopened our Western and Chinese restaurants and bar, and we have hired new chefs and a mixologist to deliver the finest cuisine and drinks,” he said.