Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) held the Annual Press Conference on 23 January 2019, indicating that total visitor arrivals to Macao went up by 9.8% to over 35.8 million in 2018, as revealed by preliminary figures. Surpassing same-day visitor arrivals for three years in a row, overnight-stay visitor arrivals surged year-on-year by 7.2% to account for 51.7% of total visitor arrivals. Looking into 2019, MGTO will march ahead to deepen Macao’s development as a Creative City of Gastronomy in tandem with the dedication to foster smart tourism and implement action plans mapped out by the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan progressively, delivering the impact of the tourism industry in driving the economy and other related industries forward.
In the press conference, a retrospective overview of Macao’s tourism performance last year was presented and MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes unveiled MGTO’s work plan for 2019. Over 400 participants attended the conference, comprising members of the travel trade and journalists from Macao, Mainland China and Hong Kong, which include foreign correspondents based in Macao.
Macao tourism situation in 2018 (preliminary statistics)
Against the global backdrop of political uncertainty, the local tourism industry demonstrated fair performance overall in 2018, bolstered by the inauguration of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and concerted efforts among different tourism sectors. Preliminary data revealed increase in numerous tourism indicators last year including total visitor arrivals, visitor arrivals from the Greater China markets, sum of overnight-stay visitors as well as visitor expenditure.
Total visitor arrivals grew by 9.8% to exceed 35.8 million in 2018, among which over 32.6 million visitors came from the Greater China markets, a rise of 11%. International visitor arrivals dropped slightly by 1.1% to 3.1 million and more. Since the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on 24 October 2018, 1.05 million visitors entered Macao via the Bridge, the port of entry which received the second largest number of visitors to Macao during the period.
Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan region remained Macao’s top three visitor source markets, all of which registered increases in visitor volume. The city welcomed over 25 million Mainland visitors last year, up by 13.8%, with 41% of the visitors from Guangdong Province. The figure includes over 12 million individual visitors which constitute 48.6% of Mainland visitor arrivals. On the other hand, visitor arrivals from Hong Kong and Taiwan region rose by 2.6% and 0.1% respectively.
Korea continued to rank first among international markets, contributing over 810,000 visitors to Macao last year. Visitor arrivals from Japan and the Philippines both exceeded 310,000, whereas visitor arrivals from the United States, the only long-haul market among the top ten visitor source markets, climbed up by 8.3%.
Overnight-stay visitors exceeded same-day visitors for three years in a row
Preliminary data show that overnight-stay visitor arrivals climbed by 7.2% to surpass 18.4 million, accounting for 51.7% of total visitor arrivals and exceeding same-day visitor arrivals for three years in a row since 2016. Same-day visitor arrivals, on the other hand, surged by a double-digit increase of 12.7% to exceed 17.3 million. The average length of stay of overnight-stay visitors rose by 0.1 day to 2.2 days, while that of all visitors to Macao stood at 1.2 days.
Rise in hotel overnight guests and visitor expenditure
Preliminary figures indicate that the total of overnight guests at local hotel establishments increased by about 6% to 14 million last year. The average occupancy rate of local hotel establishments in 2018 topped 90%, a year-on-year increase of 3 percentage points and more. The average room rate of three to five star hotels was 168.8 US dollars, up by 7%.
Up to the end of 2018, there are 120 hotel establishments in Macao supplying a total of 40,109 rooms, a year-on-year increase of 5.8%. The above includes 50 budget accommodation establishments supplying a total of 1,776 rooms.
Total visitor expenditure between January and September 2018 amounted to 29.8 billion US dollars, marking period-on-period growth of 11.9%.
MGTO Work Review of 2018
Throughout 2018, MGTO had been vigorously pushing various major tasks forward, including unfolding and following up with the action plans of the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan (“Master Plan”), commencing the work of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, actively engaging in the development of the Greater Bay Area as a travel destination and fighting against illegal accommodation, among other tasks.
Within the year after the release of the Master Plan in September 2017, 67 short-term action plans have commenced with relevant tasks being followed up, leading to progressive realization of the eight key objectives presented in the Master Plan. For smart tourism development, MGTO implemented technical tasks for construction of the “tourism information interchange platform”, helped divert visitor flow through trial use of smart tools and opened up the Macao Tourism News plus, the online tourism news database, to a wider range of users last year.
In line with the designation of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, MGTO activated the “2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy” to grow new awareness and promote Macao’s gastronomic culture, in addition to building a Macanese cuisine database and actively engaging in the work of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
MGTO also participated in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as a travel destination, including joint destination promotions with other cities of the Greater Bay Area, and launch of multi-destination tourism products in international markets.
Throughout the year, MGTO conducted 1,983 inspections on tourism professions and business establishments, and 1,877 inspections at ports of entry and tourist attractions. For measures against the provision of illegal accommodation, the Office carried out 1,379 apartment inspections and sealed 245 apartments, in addition to 463 joint actions with the interdepartmental task force. The Office also submitted the latest proposal of the regulations on operation of hotel establishments, besides actively following up with the amendments to the regulations on operation of travel agencies and tour guide profession, to refine the tourism laws and advance quality tourism development.
Four major work goals of MGTO in 2019
In 2019, MGTO is dedicated to deepening Macao’s development as a Creative City of Gastronomy and continuously carrying out the action plans of the Master Plan. The Office will forge ahead with respective tasks in accordance with the four major goals as follows, while joining hands with other entities to hold various celebrations and events for the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region in 2019:
The four major goals of MGTO in 2019 are as follows:
1. Deepen Macao’s development as a “Creative City of Gastronomy” and expand the influence of destination marketing
Foster development of the local catering industry through “inheritance, innovation and exchange”; strengthen inheritance and innovation of local Macanese Cuisine and work on building the Macanese cuisine database; continue to participate in activities hosted by other Creative Cities of Gastronomy around the world, and carry out cross-field cooperation and exchange with other Creative Cities in Asia; host and support international gastronomic events, organize different types of activities in major source markets, launch gourmet food tour products, and make greater efforts in promoting the Creative City of Gastronomy.
2. Maximize unique resource advantages and participate in the Greater Bay Area and “Belt and Road” tourism development
Actively develop Macao into a tourism education and training base in the Greater Bay Area; support government tourism personnel of Portuguese-speaking countries to come to Macao for internship and training opportunities; conduct visitor behavior studies and scientifically formulate appropriate promotional strategies in accordance with the operation of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; join hands with the city cluster of the Greater Bay Area to tap into a greater diversity of source markets, and promote multi-destination travel; leverage regional cooperation mechanisms including that of the Tourism Federation of Cities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Bay Area to push forward tourism development and joint promotion across the Greater Bay Area;
3. Promote smart tourism development and optimize tourism quality
Conduct data collection and dissemination for the tourism information interchange platform and build a tourism Big Data database; harness Big Data to analyze visitor behavior and provide grounds for studies on formulation of future destination marketing strategies; implement real-time monitoring at scenic spots and congested locations to divert visitor flows; introduce chatbot equipped with tourism information; launch a newly-designed Macao tourism promotion website; meticulously follow up with revisions to the respective laws on operation of hotel establishments, travel agencies and tour guides; rigorously combat provision of illegal accommodation; continue with the implementation of the “Quality Tourism Services Accreditation Scheme” to enhance tourism quality.
4. Work towards completion of Macau Grand Prix Thematic Museum and organize various mega celebrations with great efforts
Proactively proceed with the remodeling project of the Macau Grand Prix Themed Museum; organize celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region in major source markets; hold large-scale promotions in Portugal in line with the Year of China in Portugal; fully support the promotion of the mega cultural tourism event “Art Macao”; continue to support organization of different thematic tourism activities in various communities to foster community tourism; support and assist the travel trade in developing maritime tourism products.