Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Diversity the key to tourism success, says MGTO chief

Posted by Kimberly on June 26, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 26, 2007, page 4 (959 words)

Diversification was the key message conveyed by MGTO Director, Joao Manuel Costa Antunes, at the Macau Government Tourist Office’s Annual Marketing Meeting yesterday.
Held at Fisherman’s Wharf Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Antunes said, “product diversification helps to minimise the risk of over-dependence on key products as well as helping to reduce seasonality.”
Figures show that there is a overall upward movement in all relevant sectors for the January-April 2007 period.
Total visitor arrivals increased by 21.45 percent over the same period last year, with visitor arrivals reaching 10.7 million.
Of this total, over 55 percent were from Mainland China with more than 31 percent from Hong Kong.
Global indicators show an increase of more than 21 percent of visitors over the first quarter of 2007 as compared with the same period last year.
Macau international airport showed an increase of 17 percent in passengers over the first quarter as compared with last year.
With an increase in direct flights from Malaysia to Macau, statistics show a marked increase in visitors of more than 99 percent over the same period next year. The increase reflects Malaysia’s status as Macau’s fourth-largest inbound market.
The MGTO hope to be able to focus on Macau’s other new visitor-generating markets, namely Thailand, Philippines and Singapore, all of which reflected double-digit increases as a result of direct access.
For the moment, tourism appears to be focussed on neighbouring Asian countries, although the MGTO is looking at emerging destinations.
In his speech. Mr Antunes said, “Macau is developing new and potential international markets, namely Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia and the Middle East.”
Through the use of tourism campaigns such as last year’s World Heritage Year and this year’s ‘Year of China’ in Russia, the MGTO hope that these destinations will diversify Macau’s economy and increase job potential.
With an increased integration into Macau’s culture of various aspects including sports, heritage, conventions and exhibitions, “great priority will be placed on introducing new tourism products containing elements of heritage and culture,” said Mr Antunes.
More visitors are using the services of travel agencies according to the statistics; there was a 40 percent increase from the same period last year, between January and April 2007.
There had been reports that tour agencies in Mainland China were not charging the correct fees to tourists to travel to Hong Kong or Macau but expected them to make large purchases in exchange for such leniency.
When questioned about this, Mr Antunes said, “I think nobody can expect a quality service if they don’t pay for the service.
“So there are different ways and they probably choose not so good transportation and other things. I believe that visitors must decide for themselves their own itinerary.”
In terms of hotel occupancy rates, the number of overnight guests rose nearly 25 percent over the same January-April period last year, with the majority, about 84 percent, choosing to stay in four and five star hotels.
The average length of stay remained virtually unchanged, at little over one night.
It cements the suggestion that visitors visit Macau predominantly for its casinos.
In the first half of 2007, 61 percent of visitors arrived by land while visitors by sea and air totalled about 34 percent and 6 percent respectively.
Overall, there was an increase of about 21 percent over the same period last year.
Figures on a month-by-month basis for the first half of 2007 show a steady consistency across all three markets, with no one particular month having an exponential increase in visitors.
Figures from January-April 2007 show that visitors from Mainland China have already surpassed total yearly figures for the year 2002, reflecting an increase of nearly 19 percent over the same quarter period last year.
The incredible growth over the past six years have shown the impact changes since the Handover have had on Mainland residents to Macau.
When questioned about this increase, Mr Antunes said, “You can see new markets emerging especially after we have new direct access.
“Also I believe that locally, the Mainland China interest in Macau will continue to increase,” although he emphasised that a month-by-month comparison could not be made.
He added that with new airport facilities in Hong Kong next year, the interchange between Macau and Hong Kong could be expected to increase rapidly.
“[It] will allow us more frequency between the two airports and a more integrated tourism…and this inter-communication facility will absolutely benefit the region,” he said.
Overall, the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry on the gross domestic product has reflected an increase of more than 25 percent between January and March 2007, as opposed to the same period last year.
Total visitor expenditure also increased dramatically more than 35 percent, between January and March 2007, compared with this period in 2006.
Gross gaming receipts, excluding gratuities rose even higher, by more than 42 percent in the first quarter of 2007 compared with last year.
Convention and exhibition figures for 2007 have not yet been released and therefore cannot be compared with previous years.
Finally, the question of the possibility of casinos in Japan and those soon to open in Singapore did not faze Mr Antunes, who said, “I think the open markets with different products always provide customer with different opportunities to choose what they want.
“I think Macau is a unique city that at every stage is compared with others, but we have new exhibition information areas so I think that we can offer a different product compared with other destination areas,” he said.
Mr Antunes also took the opportunity to put to rest any rumours that appeared to be circulating about an impending departure from his government post.

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