The Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF), entering its fifth edition, scheduled for 15 and 16 October and to be held at Studio City, will see its total budget increase to MOP45 million (US$5.63 million), according to the Chief of Office of the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture, Ip Peng Kin. The representative of the Secretariat, the main organiser of the event, says the figure represents a 7.6 per cent increase vis-a-vis the previous edition. Of the total funding, MOP22 million will come from the Tourism Fund, with the rest contributed by other sponsors, such as local gaming operators, explained the representative. Speaking at a press conference held at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre yesterday, Mr. Ip said that the gaming and tourism industries stand as the pillar industries of Macau. While facing adjustments in gaming revenues as well as pursuing the quest for economic diversification, it has become a major issue to explore ways in which to develop non-gaming elements. “Through profound discussions on the change of consumption patterns, the Forum will offer a golden opportunity for Macau to turn its goals into reality,” said Mr. Ip. “With an exchange of insightful perspectives and the sharing of experiences, the Forum will play an active role in opening up new horizons for the local tourism and leisure industry and fostering the city’s development into a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.” This edition of the GTEF is themed ‘The Growing Consumer Class – Rethinking and Reshaping the Future Tourism Landscape’. The organiser said it will zero in on how this increasingly resourceful and tech-savvy group is more than ever the driving influential force of the tourism industry. Non-gaming benefits Vice Chairman and Secretary-General of the GTEF, Pansy Ho, said that hosting GTEF is part of Macau’s effort to develop its non-gaming sector but admitted that it takes time for things to be pushed forward and to change people’s impression of Macau. “Every year, we try to come up with new programmes, new topics and invite influential guests from around the world,” said Ms. Ho. “All this is laying the foundation for Macau to gradually diversify. The results take time to be revealed.” She also indicated the importance of regional co-operation, in order for neighbouring regions to help Macau achieve its goal to be a platform, and revealed that the Guangdong Tourism Authorities will lead a delegation to join the event. “Topics such as how to design a tourism route with several stops that would include Macau and how to deepen regional co-operation in many other fields can all be discussed at the Forum,” said Ms. Ho. “Our objective is for the Forum to be a platform so that Macau can gain its influence in this aspect. If we want to just promote Macau as a tourist destination, we would have promoted it elsewhere.” She added that this year’s Forum will explore how the growing consumer class is reshaping the global tourism industry, and how their consumption behaviour and use of technology has brought unprecedented changes to the industry. With regard to visa restrictions which may impact the number of participants, Pansy Ho indicated that all sectors have been working hand-in-hand in order to provide interested parties with ultimate convenience and assured that the issue will be solved over time. Last year’s edition attracted over 3,000 participants from 45 countries and regions. The Forum has welcomed 49 provincial and municipal delegations from China, and has welcomed presentations by 13 world-renowned speakers, including government ministers, business leaders and scholars, to its stage. Highlights In celebration of its fifth anniversary, GTEF has invited France and Beijing to be its featured partners this year. As the Partner Country, France will reflect how the country continues its cultural legacy and maximises its spread of influence beyond borders through cultural exchanges in a session titled ‘France: Arts and Culture as Drivers of Tourism’. Partner City Beijing will showcase the state capital as an epicentre of Chinese culture and economic power, shedding light on China’s three millennia of history and heritage and on the distinctive preferences of Chinese consumers. As in previous editions, GTEF will begin with its signature ‘Face to Face, Ministers and Private Sector CEOs’ session in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), where leadership from the public and private sectors will tackle the subject of ‘Harnessing the 1 Billion+ Opportunities’. Industry leaders will share their insights in sessions titled ‘Maximizing the Dualities of the Chinese Consumers’ and ‘Tourism and Technology: the Inseparable Duo’. For this anniversary edition, GTEF has created new sessions such as ‘Women Leadership – The Softer Side of Leadership’, ‘World Tourism Cities – Consumers, the Transformers in City Tourism’, ‘Investment Workshop – The Burgeoning Consumer Class: Investing in a New Era’ and ‘Youth Leadership Roundtable – Understanding the Needs and Wants of the Millennials’. GTEF will count China Daily, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Connecting Travel, World Cities Tourism Federation (WTCF), and BOA Merrill Lynch as collaborative partners and sponsors for these sessions. During the Forum, the World Tourism Organization UNWTO and the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre will present their third joint annual report on Asia’s tourism trends, with special chapters on travel trends driven by the growing consumer class and tourism investment, infrastructure investment and human capital investment, providing an in-depth analysis of the latest tourism developments in Asia.