Sea dreams

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Heritage classification of the Lai Chi Vun shipyards area are in the pipeline following the recent release of the tourism Master Plan, with renewed hopes for developing the city’s waterscape and leisure maritime industry

The development of Coloane Village and its environs for tourism purposes has been inscribed in the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan, announced on September 28, as a chapter in the ‘introduction of new tourism cultural spaces for residents and visitors.’.
According to information provided to Business Daily by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the Lai Chi Vun area in Coloane, which includes the shipyards’ site and Rua dos Navegantes, has been earmarked as one of the ‘potential spots’ for development.
Accordingly, the Office claims it will co-operate with the overall planning of both the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) and the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) for ‘any future development of the area.’
No specific strategies have yet been presented.
As president of the Lai Chi Vun Villagers Association, David Pinto Marques, explained to us, MGTO’s Master Plan only “mentions the Lai Chi Vun area a couple of times, so it is still unclear what the government agency is envisioning for the site.”
He further remarked that the Association has not yet been contacted by the government regarding planning, but argued he would be in favour of an “increase” in tourism patronage if it is to be “slightly higher” than the current visitation volume to the site.
MGTO currently claims it ‘has been giving support to local associations to organise tourism activities in Coloane,’ which include the Parade of Tam Kong Festival, Parade in Coloane, and Coloane Historic Half Day Tour.
As for the Association’s expectations of the Master Plan, Mr. Marques explained they currently have “all their attention focused on the rebuilding of the area” after Typhoon Hato struck Macau on August 23.
In the meantime, he pointed out that the government has been quite visible in the area, “reinforcing the shipyards’ structures” and “helping out residents with the building of fences and other common facilities in the area” to increase public safety.

Heritage focus
In tandem with Mr. Marques’ comments, IC told Business Daily that it ‘continues to carry out the comprehensive reinforcement and cleaning works in the Lai Chi Vun shipyards area,’ after Typhoon Hato left a trail of destruction there.
IC’s spokesperson added that the Bureau expects to complete the relevant works by the end of this month.
The Bureau also noted that it is ‘actively preparing the relevant works’ to conduct the ‘heritage classification’ of the Lai Chi Vun shipyards area.
‘Currently, IC is engaged in the organisation and study of the structural components with preserving value, in order to prepare for the future revitalisation and showcasing of the local shipbuilding crafts,’ said the Bureau spokesperson.
IC added that detailed planning of the area will be conducted once DSSOPT concludes the overall planning of the area.

Plan it again, SAR
Business Daily contacted DSSOPT to enquire about its current ‘overall planning’ for Lai Chi Vun.
A spokesperson for the Bureau told us on the phone that DSSOPT was not currently involved in the planning as referred to by MGTO and IC, requesting us to refer instead to a previous plan, dating from 2012, which is available for consultation on its website.
The plan is the same Macau Business presented in a story published in May.
One of its objectives comprised was highlighting the attractiveness of the coast and waterfront as well as the relationship between local inhabitants and tourism.
Some of the plans’ highlights included valuing and promoting the shipyards industry and living history, preserving the area and its waterscape, as well as creating a workshop and exhibition space for ship construction.

Open waters
In its reply to Business Daily, the Tourism Office added that it ‘supports industry partners’ initiative to operate maritime tours around Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Coloane.’
The Office did not clarify, however, what types of support it was suggesting – subsidies or joint-ventures, for instance – despite further questions from us, as at the time this story went to print.
A Macau-registered company which has been advocating developing the local recreational maritime segment is Macau Sailing, founded at the end of 2015, about the time the Macao SAR Government was granted administrative rights over territorial waters.
Speaking to Business Daily, the head of operations for Macau Sailing – and one of the founders of the company – Henrique Silva – claimed that talks between the company and MGTO are still “ongoing.”
“Now that the tourism Master Plan has been released, we believe that there is an effective intention on the part of the government to make it work,” he suggested.
Macau Sailing previously operated its flagship boat (pictured), a 40-year old Chinese junk, that was runing for one year.
Mr. Silva and his partners decided to halt the operation at the end of 2016, discouraged by the difficulties of having a dock attributed to the boat in one of the city’s marinas and the fact that they could not strike a partnership for service provision with support from the Macao SAR Government.