World class

The idea that Macau should develop as a world centre for tourism and leisure implies an ambition. That ambition requires that the supply of attractions and the convenience of the visit should be such that it encourages the arrival of a more diversified lot of tourists with a more diversified set of interests. Tourists who, hopefully, will stay longer, use local services and shops more extensively, and will be looking for more wide-ranging kinds of experience and involvement with the place and its people. Some kind of visitors’ ‘diversification’ is thus required.
This is a lofty, if worthy, ambition. Grabbing the attention of diverse types of tourists and enticing them to come is a tall order – but without it the ‘world centre’ epithet has little meaning. A different kind of tourist is unlikely to enjoy a place where access to landmarks is usually overcrowded and unpleasant, and where most activities and tourist services are geared for short-time visitors, focused on gambling or fast spending experiences linked to a limited array of types of goods. Macau does not have most of its services and attractions developed, organised or prepared enough to overcome the likely resistance – and unwillingness to repeat visits – that other types of tourist may have or develop.
For starters, unless one is really interested in history and read extensively on the region’s history beforehand, or is lucky enough to find a local guide well-versed in such matters, it is almost sure that most tourists will leave Macau with little feeling or understanding about the singularity of the place. At best, betting winnings or losses aside, they will remember glitzy casinos and a few old facades, devoid of their historical or social context – that is, mostly meaningless.
Making the place a first-class tourist destination, however, goes well beyond developing attractions, managing the major landmarks or distributing shiny leaflets and venerable doses of, at times over-hyped, tourist-oriented advertising. A culture of service and quality must also develop at all levels of the economic activities and must be especially ‘visible’ in those that relate more directly to the visitor experience.
Does the service provided in our shops – all kinds of shops because a world destination must serve all kinds of visitors – provide, in general, an enjoyable shopping experience to those who visit us? Are they attentive to the specific needs of their customers, knowledgeable about their wares, focused on the quality of the service they provide? Are the public transportation services user-friendly, convenient and comfortable? We could go on. A world tourist centre is much more than diversifying attractions or subsidising new activities. It all starts with an unbreakable focus on the quality of the experience provided to our visitors. Are we going there yet?