In the coming years, the Macao International Travel (Industry) Expo (MITE) will be held every April, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, the Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of MITE last Friday.
The new arrangement will complement the Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF), to be held during the second half of next year and in coming years.
The MGTO director revealed that one of the reasons for this decision was that the tourism office had received advice from relevant parties in the tourism industry that April is an ideal time to offer sales for summer holiday packages during July and August.
Regarding the 5th edition of MITE, Ms. Senna Fernandes disclosed that MGTO spent some MOP8 million (US$994,275) to cover half of the exhibition’s expenses, increasing by some MOP1 million when compared to last year.
“The entire expo required some MOP16 million […] and the rest was supported by sponsors and business partners with the co-organizer,” said the director.
This year’s edition had 20 exhibitor units comprised of tourism departments from various Mainland provinces or cities.
“In future editions we hope to attract more exhibitors outside of the country to take part in MITE,” the director said, while also expressing hope that exhibitor units from the ‘Belt and Road’ would have a more significant presence in booths in future editions of MITE.
Meanwhile, Ms. Senna Fernandes disclosed that the China National Tourism Administration has pledged to support Macau in extending the tourism market outside of the country, and to help Macau become a city with significant international influence in the tourism industry.
High prices driving away tourists
Travel Department Assistant General Manager for state-owned travel agency China Travel Service (Macao) Ltd. (CTS), Patrick Puk opined that high hotel room rates in the city are driving away some groups of tourists.
“I know some tourists from Hong Kong, and for two people they would spend about MOP5,000 to MOP6,000 for a weekend, staying in, let’s say, Wynn Palace and also taking into consideration the ferry tickets,” shared Puk.
In comparison, according to Puk, there are packages to Taiwan that only cost a few thousand for a trip of three days and two nights.
“Hotel rooms in Macau are grand but the price is high, and the city is small. What would you do here aside from gambling if you stay for two nights?” he enquired.
Because of the higher costs, the manager remarked that developing Macau as a stopover destination would thus pose difficulties.
Furthermore, according to Puk, the limited number of flights to Macau is also a major obstacle for the city in developing itself as a stopover point.
He explained that many of the direct flights to Southeast Asian countries from Macau are also available from many Chinese cities.
“Before the government proposed to subsidise tourists who stayed in Macau for one to two days for transit, but in the end the plan wasn’t carried out,” disclosed Puk, while noting that the government cannot control the price of hotel rooms.
He also explained that the high costs have resulted in a decline in the number of foreign tourists visiting Macau.
Meanwhile, Puk said that the number of package tours coming to Macau is getting smaller.
“Package tours are more for those who have never visited Macau before […] they will travel on their own after they have visited the city once,” Puk opines.
Less foreign exhibitors
Having participated in past editions of the event, Puk noticed that this year’s MITE had fewer participants from certain territories, in particular Taiwan and Japan, compared to last year.
“Unlike the tourism expo in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the one in Macau lacks foreign exhibitors from outside of the country,” the manager pointed out.
He stated that more new companies had appeared, and also acknowledged that companies this year were focused more on practicality, holding creative activities to attract customers such as lucky draws, “instead of just setting up a booth like last year”.
When asked about sales at last year’s MITE, Puk revealed that their performance was “just okay” since they were testing the waters.
“This year our sales seem to have increased and we are learning from other travel agents [to roll out creative activities],” said Puk.
For Multinational Travel Group, the sales at last year’s edition exceeded expectations, and this year’s sales were expected to outperform last year’s, according to the group’s Director & Assistant General Manager, Candy Leng.
Meanwhile, Andy Chan, the Operation Director of Astro Travel Company Limited (ATC) told Business Daily that this year’s MITE held specific sessions for exhibitors to have business exchanges and networking.
“It was just surface networking because other [companies which took part in the session] didn’t have much information, but at least we got to know each other,” said Chan.
Chan also disclosed that the number of their booked tours was fewer than last year, saying that local residents are perhaps targeting destinations outside of the country, given that ATC mainly focuses on tours to the Mainland.
Open public tender
in September for renovating Grand Prix Museum
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, the Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) said last Friday that the Grand Prix Museum is currently closed and the public tender for renovating it will be opened in September.
The budget for the renovations, as stated previously by the Secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, will remain unchanged, at MOP300 million, while the MGTO director pointed out that the final cost would depend on the supplier selected.
Regarding the Wine Museum, located next to the Grand Prix Museum inside of the Tourism Centre (Centro de Actividades Turísticas) adjacent to Golden Lotus Square, Ms. Senna Fernandes said given that it will be relocated to Coloane, it will be smaller in scale compared to the Grand Prix Museum, and therefore the two museums will be handled in different ways.
The renovated Grand Prix Museum will take up the entire building of the former Tourism Centre.