If it does not intend to limit the number of visitors that can enter the city in order to prevent overtourism, Macau should direct tourism fluxes to different destinations in its borders, or to nearby areas, the Euromonitor International Country Manager, Agilson Valle, told Macau News Agency (MNA).
Macau has gone up one place to 4th at the Top 100 City Destinations 2019 report, compiled by the UK based market research company Euromonitor International, and is expected to go up to third in its next report.
The report only took into consideration visitors who remained in Macau for more than 24 hours, and without same-day trippers, the city was still in the top 5.
“[Overtourism] is a global issue, especially when you compare the number of visitors to the local population […] In the case of Hong Kong is an average of 1 inhabitant for every nine visitors if you take in consideration day-trippers. Macau will be even higher than that,” Valle noted after a seminar held by the French Macau Chamber of Commerce.
The number of visitors who travelled to Macau between January and October has increased by 15.3 per cent year-on-year to more than 33.4 million, with 71 per cent coming from Mainland China.
Just this number represents about 49 visitors per each of the around 676,100 current Macau inhabitants, with estimates believing the year will end with almost 40 million visitors entering Macau.
“It is an issue but an issue that can be tackled by spreading tourists to different areas. That’s what Hong Kong has done with the Great Outdoors campaign with National Geographic. They started advertising Hong Kong as a destination for beach, hiking. They had one campaign this year on local neighbourhoods. It’s really trying to take the mess from two main areas in the city into different areas,” Valle noted.
European cities such as Barcelona and Venice, have also struggled with overtourism for many years, with Barcelona having prohibited the construction of new hotels in the centre and it has established a tourist bus line to the beaches, while Venice implemented access controls to discourage tourists from visiting the centre when it is full.
“Some cities limit influxes. The case of Macau is interesting because it’s a small area so there’s not much you can be doing. But then, by adding islands and territories from cities next door, you might be able to spread a little bit the number of tourists,” he added also mentioning the potential Hengqin has to spread tourism influxes and diversify the type of tourists received.
The Chinese central government outline plan for the Greater Bay Area – published in February – stated that Hengqin would be developed into a “high-standard international leisure and tourism island [in order to] complement Macau’s development into a world tourism and leisure centre.”
The Euromonitor Country Manager noted, while Hong Kong is a preferred destination for singles and couples, Singapore “has done really well in attracting families” by developing entertainment options for families, like the Santosa Island, where Resorts World Sentosa – which includes the Universal Studios Singapore theme park and one of Singapore’s two casinos – is located.
Meanwhile, tourism flows coming from Mainland China will likely start to be diverted from the Gongbei Border to the Lotus Bridge checkpoint in Cotai as new transport infrastructure is completed this year.