Top News Macau sees positive return to tourism By Prudence Lui / Posted on 19 January, 2023 17:34 Macau welcomed a travel trade familiarisation group from Hong Kong this week – the first since the pandemic upset inbound tourism. The two-day visit reacquainted 40 attendees with Macau’s top attractions and reconnected them with local travel and tourism suppliers through a networking seminar on January 16. Hong Kong travel agents revisited new and familiar sights across Macau According to Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Hong Kong remains the second most important source of tourist traffic for Macau, and MGTO is pushing a spate of promotional schemes and special offers to spur travel. Starting January 13, Macau will roll out a three-month buy-one-get-one-free promotion for ferry and coach rides to Macau. Access to Macau is improving, with two ferry operators commencing Hong Kong-Macau services. TurboJET is ready to ramp up its day and night sailings from January 19 when Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal reopens. The Civil Aviation Authority has approved flight resumption and increased frequencies for Air Macau, as well as mainland and foreign operators. Air Asia’s thrice weekly services between Kuala Lumpur and Macau will commence in February, while Sky Shuttle has started operating eight daily flights to Hong Kong since January 16. Avis Macau has also fully resumed its cross-border premium transfer service, and has been pushing private boutique tours using its seven-seater cars. More promotions for the Hong Kong market will be announced after Chinese New Year. Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council’s (TIC) chairman, Gianna Hsu, praised MGTO’s swift action to rebuild Hong Kong traffic. She believes that promotional offers will boost Hong Kong residents’ interest in Macau. “It will take less than 10 days for Macau to hit 50 per cent of pre-Covid daily visitorship (from Hong Kong). This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said, adding that more collaboration between both cities would complement each other’s tourism promotions. During a product presentation, MGTO’s deputy director, Cheng Wai Tong, urged attendees to work together to create travel bundles comprising premium car rental and authentic, tailor-made tour experiences. Cheng added that an even larger travel trade familiarisation trip scheduled for February, involving 60 to 70 agents from Hong Kong. Rutger Verschuren, general manager and area vice president, Macau operations, Artyzen Grand Lapa Macau, said: “It is magnificent seeing our friends in every sector of the tourism industry, MGTO and TIC shifting gear so fast. “We are now on a U-turn towards a perfect recovery – anxiety by the gaming tenders has been wrapped up, Chinese New Year is around the corner, and zero-Covid put aside along with most restrictions. (It’s) green light all the way, it appears.” However, international arrivals will take time to return, as flights are not fully recovered, opined MGTO’s Fernandes. “More flights from South-east Asia (will) be announced next month,” she said. Macau registered more than 55,000 visitor arrivals across all markets on January 14 – the highest single-day record. For the whole of December 2022, Macau had a daily average of 12,909 visitors. Fernandes said arrival numbers will continue to climb, with an average of 47,000 visitors expected during the upcoming seven-day Chinese New Year holidays.