Loose thoughts

The experience we have as tourists, anywhere in the world, is often a complex one. Various things will make us like (or dislike) a place and will provide an incentive (or not) to return at some future time. For Macau to become a top world destination implies the city must offer opportunities for different kinds of experience to a varied bunch of visitors. The attractiveness of the casinos and the quality of services they deliver to gamblers, including their lodging and food facilities, are certainly major factors. But if the place is to avoid becoming only a gambling spot, where many go, but few actually visit, other aspects will weigh in. Happy visitors are also, incidentally, our best advertisers. A comprehensive set of features sets the stage, so to speak, where enjoyable and memorable moments are more likely to happen. Possibly, as a tourist destination, we may be a bit short on some of them. The stories below are based, as they say in the movies, on true stories. I will refrain from conclusions. Take 1: shopping. You enter a photo equipment shop. A particular model catches your eye, and you ask to see it. While assessing its commands and fit in your hand, you ask about a certain accessory. They don’t know, never heard of – and do not show any interest in the matter. You venture a question about the camera specifications. No idea. “Could you show me the manual?”, you ask tentatively. “You can search on the Internet,” is the prompt reply. Finally, you get the message: customers are supposed to buy things, not ask questions. You leave but do not forget the advice. An online shop will deliver everything home, accessories included, in less than one week – for a lower price, including transportation, than the one offered at the shop. Good advice, in the end, you think. Take 2: arrival at the international airport. The full plane has just landed. It is past midnight. You just want to check in, have a shower and drop into bed. The first hint of trouble comes with people rushing to the door while the plane is still on the runway. You will shortly find they know something you don’t. From the airport few taxis are available. Some travellers don’t even try to queue at the taxi stand. They know better. Several taxis are waiting close to the parking lot. For a couple of “gifts” they will take you immediately, no need to wait. Time passes, the long queue hardly changes. Occasionally, a daring driver will approach the stand. From a few metres away, for a fixed fee, just a few hundred, he will offer to pick you up at once. It does little to improve the mood. More than one hour later you are on the way to your hotel. Not the smoothest of starts, you may be forgiven for thinking.