Macau confident of tourism growth

Fernandes in London today
Fernandes in London today

Macau’s new tourism director is confident international tourism numbers into the region will increase despite a dip in long-haul travel for Brits earlier this year.

Speaking in London, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macau Government Tourist Office told the UK travel trade that despite a drop in UK long-haul outbound visits for the first quarter of 2013 (ONS), preliminary results were showing a more positive outlook for UK visitors to Macau for the first five months of the year.

While China, Hong Kong and Taiwan remain its top source markets, officials are focused on growing numbers from the UK with new product and infrastructure.

“UK numbers have just become positive so that is a good sign for the market. We are not after the big numbers in arrivals but are working to extend length of stay and to spend a little more,” Fernandes explained. “We are developing new products and markets, working with our travel trade partners but also consumer and lifestyle brands to promote the destination.”

The region’s growth in roomstock is to naturally slow down in the next two years following the opening of several huge developments including the world’s largest Sheraton in 2012.

From 9,000 rooms in 1999 Macau now has 28,000. Another six are due to be developed in late 2015/early 2016 including a Ritz-Carlton and Marriott.

It hopes the appearance of Dreamworks characters at Sands Cotai Central and a new ocean theme park will attract more families to the area, while a new simplified visa system with China (that can be arranged in Macau) has helped to ease travel across the border and allow for more multi-centre or day trips.

Tour operators at the breakfast told Travel Daily air connectivity was an issue with selling holidays to Macau, as there are no direct flights from the UK and low-cost carriers like AirAsia do not sell through the trade.

While connections with Cathay Pacific and Air China are available, it is hoped a new bridge connecting Hong Kong to Macau, and easing road access, will boost numbers further when it opens in 2016.

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