Smart tourism moves up Macau’s 2019 agenda

MGTO's Cheng Wai Tong, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes and Ricky Hoi

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) plans to hone in on smart tourism development and tourism quality this year, one of the four work goals outlined at its annual press conference last week.

Other goals include deepening Macau’s development as a Creative City of Gastronomy, attracting more international gourmet events to the city, and greater leverage of the Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road initiative for tourism development.

From left: MGTO’s Cheng Wai Tong, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes and Ricky Hoi

The Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan released previously had touched on fostering smart tourism, with related activities including the launch of the Macao Tourism Promotion Website, as well as using big data to analyse visitor behaviour as a foundation for researching future tourism promotion strategy.

Meanwhile, a partnership with Alibaba to implement real-time monitoring at scenic spots and congested locations to divert visitor traffic is in progress. The method is scheduled for testing during the upcoming Golden Week Holiday before a full roll-out.

MGTO is also highlighting the opening of the Macau Grand Prix Themed Museum and mega events as ways to achieve its smart and quality tourism goals.

The high-tech museum is in its final stage of remodelling, targeted for completion by year-end, which will see it expand six times in size.

MGTO’s deputy director Ricky Hoi shared that the museum will be an experience-driven attraction with elements like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and multimedia medium.

Mega celebrations could further help attract new segments and enhance tourism quality. Activities include celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region and the Year of China in Portugal, where large scale promotions are already being rolled out.

For the first time, a mega cultural tourism event called Art Macao is scheduled to be held between May and October 2019.

Hoi explained: “Macau will become an art capital as we consolidate previously scattered art events organised by government departments. We will repackage them under the Art Macao brand to promote internationally. Another key highlight of the event will be artist visits, multimedia installations and involvement with all existing six IR operators.”

Isabella Hou, manager of Star Express, which specialises in the Japanese inbound market, seeks more concrete information regarding the 20th anniversary celebration and the opening date of the Grand Prix Museum in order for agents to better sell the destination.

“There isn’t anything brand new and most of our itineraries have (not been refreshed in a while),” she remarked.

Instead, Hou is pulling attention to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge. “The Japanese market has high expectations (of the bridge). So far, our concern is about the logistical issues such as the lack of seamless connections from Hong Kong International Airport and traffic jams on the Macau side. We don’t see any immediate solutions. Moreover, signage and direction is not clear along the way so guests may get lost if they do not have a tour guide accompanying them.”

Visitor arrivals to Macau went up by 9.8 per cent to over 35.8 million, while about one million traffic crossed the new bridge between October 24 and December 31, 2018.

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