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Baking quality into the tourism mix

After a two-year period the master plan for the development of MSAR tourism has finally been presented, with the plan’s visitation estimates depicting a scenario in which the city could welcome as many as 40 million visitors by 2025

“We’re not looking for as many tourists as possible but more quality tourists. This number is just a possibility and we need to have concrete plans to deal with this scenario if it does happen,” Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said yesterday.
In order to deal with that scenario, better dispersion of tourists to different areas of Macau and improved transport infrastructure will be attempted, with the MGTO head adding that a better control of visitors from Mainland China could also be on the cards.
Meanwhile the number of hotel rooms in the city could increase from 37,634 in 2016 to 51,900 in 2025, with the MGTO head stating the estimates were made taking into consideration current requests for hotel licences and land for hotel development plans.
Upgrading tourism offerings would also pass by developing tourism and cultural installations in all reclaimed new areas in the city, but with Ms. Fernandes saying there are no current plans to develop hotels in these zones.

Not that much more
Despite the considerable possible increase in visitation and amount of available rooms, however, the average percentage of overnight stay would only increase from 50.7 per cent to 53 per cent, with average hotel occupancy growing just 1 per cent to 84 per cent by 2025.
The average length of visit is expected to reach 2.3 nights in 2025 in the master plan, only 0.2 percentage points higher than in 2016.
“I don’t think this is a conservative estimate, since to reach that average a huge effort needs to be made. Integrating the city into the regional area also leads to more sharing of tourists with neighbouring cities,” added Ms. Fernandes.
The number of tourism related employees – including non-residents – would also increase by 53,000 from 2016 to 295,000 in 2025, with the master plan focusing on improving working conditions for local residents in tourism positions while appeasing some of the problems generated by lack of human resources through technology innovation solutions.
“We want more chances for local residents to reach higher positions in the tourism industry and more young people to enter the industry,” said the MGTO head.
The study and development of the Tourism Master Plan was initiated in 2015 and presented yesterday by MGTO as the general guidelines for developing the local industry up to 2030.
The plan indicates eight main objectives: diversifying tourism products and experiences; improving service quality and skills, re-branding Macau as a multi-day destination and expanding high-value markets; optimising the urban development model; managing local tourism carrying capacity; utilising innovative technology; enhancing tourism industry co-operation; and improving Macau’s position as a core tourism city in the regional and international tourism community.

No local Disney
The presented master plan indicates that the ‘development of a theme park with distinctive features’ in the territory’ should be facilitated but with large scale projects not considered suitable for the MSAR.
“The theme parks we’re discussing are not of the scale of Disney or Ocean Park because we simply don’t have the space or the conditions to develop these infrastructures. They will be smaller with more innovative offers,” said Ms. Fernandes.
The MGTO head also said that investors were already studying the possibility of establishing theme park attractions new to the territory.
These investors are still searching for spaces and local partners with the projects still in the early stages.
In August, Business Daily reported that the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) had issued a licence for the foundation work of the theme park and resort proposed by legislator and Executive Director of local operator Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) Angela Leong On Kei.
The theme park will be situated on a plot in Cotai facing Wynn Palace and the Grand Lisboa Palace, with its theme previously described as being Hello Kitty.