The current tourism shuttle bus services are a ‘win-win’ for service providers and tourists visiting the MSAR and provide an essential role in the city’s tourism development, according to a study co-authored by researchers from the University of Macau (UM) and Washington State University.
The study sought to determine whether the quality of tourist shuttles influences the intention of tourists to revisit a tourist destination by looking at the example of Macau, with a survey conducted of 300 tourists of different nationalities, including respondents from Mainland China, South Korea and the U.S.
The report argues that tourist shuttles may, in fact, increase tourists’ intention to revisit Macau, since the quality of transport increases their destination satisfaction as well as affecting how they perceive the city’s image.
“Each destination tries to attract as many tourists as possible through its primary tourism products – accommodation, entertainment packages, transportation, etc. Among these products, transportation is relatively neglected […],”Associate Professor at the UM Faculty of Business Administration, Amy Siu-Ian So, told Business Daily.
According to Ms. So – one of the study’s co-authors – the MSAR stands out from other tourism destinations by offering “exceptional tourist shuttle service” with the study showing shuttle bus services can alone increase a city’s competitiveness and sustain tourism.
For Ms. So, the fact that the services are free of charge, together with the routes covered, mode of operation and the superior quality compared to public buses, demonstrate the quality of the local shuttle bus service.
“It has been noted that the importance of shuttles in Macau is manifested by the fact that all local transportation relies upon public buses and taxis, which are not enough to meet the demands of tourists and local residents. These shortfalls, along with the lack of other transportation means in the city, add to the importance of tourist shuttle services in Macau,” Ms. So added.
Ms. So told Business Daily that the local government could improve the shuttle bus service by providing incentives such as free occupational training programmes for people interested in working in the area, while destination marketers should focus on improving efficiency, punctuality, and safety of the routes.
“Previous studies showed that taxi drivers can play a significant role in promoting a city’s image. As such, service providers could place greater emphasis upon training programmes that encourage employees to deliver quality service to customers and promote a positive image of their area,” she added.
In April, Transport Bureau (DSAT) head Kelvin Lam Hin Sang said the government was considering capping the number of casino shuttle buses. The news came in response to an inquiry submitted by legislator Chan Meng Kam.
The DSAT head added that as of February this year some 454 casino shuttle buses plied the roads, providing a total of 62 routes.
In his response the official stated that since the end of last year the number of shuttle bus services had been reduced by 13 buses and three routes.
After the city’s six major gaming operators started joint shuttle bus services connecting the Border Gate with their Macau Peninsula and Cotai properties in November of last year, the number of casino buses commuting passengers between local casinos, and those between casinos and the Border Gate, dropped by 26.3 per cent and 33.3 per cent, respectively, the DSAT head added.