A survey carried out by researchers from the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) shows that a majority of Macau residents and tourists consider Portuguese cultural heritage a more distinctive feature of the city than the Chinese one.
This is one of the findings of a newly published paper called Resident destination identity and tourist perceived image of Macao by demographic, geographic, and behavioural segments, co-authored by Rachel Luna Peralta and Suh-hee Choi.
The research “explored the resident destination identity and tourist perceived image of Macau by demographic, geographic, and behavioural segments,” among 294 residents and 294 tourists and the results leave little room for doubt: when asked which of the two cultural heritages is most representative of Macau’s identity, the majority respond that it is the Portuguese one.
Among local residents, using the perceived image by image as a criterion, all segments aged between 15 and 64 consider the Portuguese heritage more decisive than the Chinese.
Among tourists, the picture is not so clear-cut, since while those age 15 and 45 years also point to Portuguese heritage as the more defining feature of the city, older visitors, above 45 year sold tend to consider the Chinese cultural heritage as more significant.
The authors also assessed the perception of tourists and residents based on income.
Once again, all segments of Macau SAR residents choose the Portuguese heritage as stronger (with a single exception of those with a monthly income between HKD40,000 and HKD49,999), while opinions among tourists were somewhat divided.
Visitors with higher income almost always chose the Chinese cultural heritage, unlike those who earl less than HKD30,000 who chose the Portuguese.
The same pattern occurs when the evaluation criterion is professional occupation and are even clearer if the division is made by civil status: married and single residents choose the Portuguese heritage, as do single tourists (there is a tie in the tourist perceived image from married people).
Destination identity still largely shaped by casino/gambling
As the paper’s headline shows, this particular question of the perceived cultural heritage image of Macau is only one aspect surveyed by the authors.
Another five other destination attributes were used to assess the city’s destination identity and tourist perceived image, namely casino and gambling, restaurants, hotel facilities, local festivals and events, and MICE.
The authors highlight that “among the segmentation variables tested, among residents, the image about casino/gambling, and festivals and events, a few demographic variables such as age, income, and occupation showed differences.”
For instance, “for restaurants, the gap between the younger generation and the older generation appeared remarkable. Residents’ identity of festivals and events roughly increased with the increase of the age.”
Peralta and Choi conclude that “strategic promotions of Macau’s restaurants, festivals, heritage, and MICE may effectively strengthen the perception of Macau among residents and tourists alike.”
“Regardless of demographic profiles among residents and tourists, it seems that its casino/gambling destination identity and image continues to define what Macau is”, is the final assessment of the paper.
(Peralta, Rachel Luna, and Choi, Suh-hee. Resident destination identity and tourist perceived image of Macao by demographic, geographic, and behavioural segments, electronically presented during the 2020 CAUTHE Conference, February 8-11, 2020, Auckland, New Zealand. CAUTHE stands for Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education; https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=046955106197116;res=IELBUS.)