Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

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

Tourism and terror: the Honorary Consul gives his views

Posted by Kimberly on July 13, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
July 13, 2007, page 2 (1,281 words)

Dr Glenn McCartney, Honorary Consul for Britain in Macau, gave the Macau Daily Times a cappuccino-moment of his time to discuss various issues from the recent London bomb threats to Macau’s tourism future.
“London’s not the only one that suffers from the threat of terrorism,” he said adding that “of course it’s not a good thing to see.
“The local residents have to constantly be aware of the terrorism threats and of course the tourist industry, investors and so on.”
As Dr McCartney observes, it’s a new trend that’s been occurring since September 11th 2001, and continued on to many other destinations including Bali and London before, even Madrid.
“It’s something we have to start living with now, a new age of terrorism threats that global and fanatic,” he said.
He compares air travel over the past ten years and the inconveniences that travellers are forced to endure as a result of the changing environment, but acknowledges that a higher level of security is an aspect that people are assured to see.
But he agrees that one incident can change everything.
“There was something recently in Yemen [where nine people, including seven Spanish tourists, were killed when a bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a tourist convoy at a temple in Marib.]
“One incident is enough to drive away tourists. We’ve seen this in places like Bali and so on where it can really drastically [affect tourism].
“You have to think of the people who have to live there in the aftermath, perhaps who rely so much on tourism.
“So there are a lot of core victims of terrorism,” said.
So when it comes to the registration of British residents in Macau, unlike more volatile countries, it’s not a requirement, simply because Macau is considered a safe community.
“It wouldn’t occur to people because Macau is a safe community, but there’s some countries in the world where the first thing some would probably do upon arrival is say they want to let their consul know they’re there because the environment or the country is not as secure.
“People in Hong Kong wouldn’t think of registering because it’s a secure and safe environment.
“It’s only when something would happen like they’ve lost their passport or other kinds of issues. “We’re here in case we’re needed and called upon. It’s not compulsory to register. I’d never insist upon people registering; I’d recommend it because at least we know you’re here.
“And that’s not just because you get an invitation to the Queen’s birthday,” said Dr McCartney.
While the current number of British residents in Macau are recorded to be about 500, Dr McCartney agrees that this figure can hardly be considered accurate.
“We also know that some people are putting their work permits in process or they are coming here for a few weeks of consultancy work.
“So obviously 500 is what we know but I’m sure there are more.
“I can say last year when I received phone calls, some of them were from people that were unregistered that I wasn’t aware of, that I was made aware of because of those phone calls,” he said.
The Consul’s role extends to far more than simply a point of contact for lost passports.
A Macau Contact Group was established about eight months ago, consisting of the Consul and vice councils from each department with the Consul general in Hong Kong.
The group meets to discuss Macau in all its areas, which Dr McCartney considers a very good thing.
“We met a few weeks ago just after the Queen”s birthday and we discussed issues from consular, to economic to political.
“And we have suggested a way forward for the next one or two years.
“We’re working on realising that there is a group of British in Macau, that there’s a group of British trade in Macau, that Macau is changing so we’re trying to forward think what does that mean.
“Our role should be more than just an Honorary Consul. We’re trying to look ahead,” he said.
As previously noted in this newspaper, the inauguration of a British Resident’s Association was expected to occur this month.
This has now been postponed to next month as a result of the Consul’s involvement indirect or otherwise, in other areas, namely Manchester United’s arrival this month and the British paralympians in August.
There will be 150 people in the Paralympics team coming to Macau.
“It’s good for relationship-building that Macau has been chosen by some of the Olympic teams for their holding camps prior to the Olympic Games.
Having approached the British community, Dr McCartney records a high level of support in the form of volunteers.
“They have the localised knowledge that the teams might need. We’ll probably need around 15-20 [volunteers] for that period of time.
“Just to do some of the administrative work and work on the local logistics, just to facilitate a lot of stuff.
“So next year will be the real thing, prior to the Olympics. So that’s pretty exciting,” he said.
Despite it being put on the back-burner, the Resident’s Association will hopefully bring a significant change to the social lives of many English-speaking residents in Macau, as well as something significant that the Consul can create.
“I think it’s important for people to realise that we can contribute to the community,” said Dr McCartney.
“It’s something that I hold very important to me, that we can give something back to the community that we live and work in.
“Possibly by holding charity events or contribute to urban skills and knowledge. To say we’re part of the community, we’re living here for ‘x’ number of years so we should be contributing something to the community.
“I think this will be a bridge for us,” he said.
While current membership clubs include the International Ladies’ Club of Macau (ILCM), “they do wonderful things, very much at the charity front-line” and the Rotary clubs “I’ve been a Rotarian for six years but it’s a small membership,” Dr McCartney feels that, “there’s still a lot more I think there is to do, forming these groups that can liaise with local associations so I think we can do a lot more.”
As for Macau itself, Dr McCartney, whose Phd is in tourism and who is a Professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology, believes Macau has gone through some strategic changes.
“The liberalisation of the gaming industry was a great step for Macau.
“That was a very huge step for a young government. That has been a key policy decision making and so shortly after the handover.
“I don’t think many people would have forecasted what the growth would have been.
“Maybe they thought the growth may have been slower but the impact has been obviously tremendous,” said Dr McCartney.
He also spoke abut Macau’s growth away from Hong Kong, suggesting that, while the old Macau was always under its shadow, “now people in Hong Kong are coming to Macau to work in Macau. The construction industry of Hong Kong are in Macau.
“In a few years Macau will probably overtake Hong Kong in tourism arrivals,” he said, even though Hong Kong as a financial capital will never allow Macau to be its equal.
So the future success of Macau’s tourism is dependant on one main point; understanding the tourists better.
“There’s a huge number of tourist arrivals but I’m more concerned with what is the number behind that statistic?
“The length of stay, how much they spend, could we generate a lot more income from that spend etc.
“There’s a lot more data that I would want to see,” he said.

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