Clashes in Hong Kong lead to 17% drop in Macau tourism in international markets

The clashes in Hong Kong have caused a 17% drop in tourists from international markets visiting Macau, Paula Machado, Macau Tourism Coordinator for Portugal, told Lusa.

Portugal is included in this figure, said the official, adding that the number of Portuguese visiting Macau has fluctuated between 16,000 and 15,000 since 2013. Last year stood at 15,594, against 16,259 in 2017.

Portugal is the European tourist market with the longest average stay in Macau, (six days in 2018), she said.

Speaking to Lusa, Paula Machado admitted that the conflict situation in Hong Kong may cause fear in visitors who usually buy a travel package that includes a visit to both territories.

Some decide to keep the trip, but there are also agencies requesting changes to the program to avoid Hong Kong or looking for a way out of the territory without going through conflict zones between protesters and police.

“It was common to sell the package Hong Kong-Macau or China-Hong Kong-Macau or Shanghai-Hong Kong-Macau. Hong Kong was part of the package, because normally people traveling from Portugal pass through Hong Kong’s terminal airport,” she explained.

The goal of the coordinating department is to reach the 17,000 visitors mark from Portugal to Macau in the coming years.

Among the factors that hinder promotion, tourism officials identify “the great distance” between Portugal and Macau, the “high cost of flights” and the “low salary of a large part of the Portuguese working population”.

In 2018, nearly 36 million visitors entered Macau, 10% more than in 2017.

Macau is presented as one of the fastest growing tourist and economic destinations in the world. According to official figures, the region grew by 211% between 1999 (the year the territory returned to Chinese administration) and 2018, from 11.5 to 35.8 million visitors.