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Macao looks to the Great Bay Area to boost its international visitor arrivals

The Macau Government Tourism Office Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes says the territory wants to work with airlines that fly into Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou to bring tourists to Macao.

The Greater Bay Area (or GBA) is a Chinese government project to connect 11 cities in the South of China: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Macau plus another seven supporting cities on Mainland China into a single economic and business hub.

Image: Sands China Ltd/ Billy Yiu.  Macao Government Tourism Office Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes gives a speech during the Macao Showcase at Marina Bay Sands Singapore.  Macao 

Macao is “keeping its options open” when it comes to attracting more international visitors, according to tourism chief Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes.

Speaking on the sidelines of the three-day Macao Showcase event, being staged by Sands China at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Senna Fernandes said Macao would work with airlines in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) to enable travellers to “come in and fly out from different points”.

She told Macao News that Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific, and the fledgling Greater Bay Airlines, joined the recent Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) roadshow in Bangkok “for the first time, and they were selling combined Hong Kong and Macao packages at our roadshow, so we do look at Hong Kong as a very important partner and airlines that fly into Hong Kong are our partners”.

Senna Fernandes added that Macao was “looking at airlines that fly into Shenzhen and Guangzhou airport as well because the GBA should be one whole big brand”.

Currently, international arrivals comprise just 2 percent of Macao’s visitors, down from roughly 10 percent before the pandemic. The territory is keen to diversify its tourism markets in order to reduce its heavy dependence on mainland Chinese visitors.

The tourism official also welcomed plans, announced yesterday, to resume check-through baggage services, allowing visitors arriving via Hong Kong to have their bags checked straight through to Macao.

“Having that possibility is very welcome for Macao, because that will give us the opportunity to leverage Hong Kong International Airport to bring in not only leisure visitors but also meetings, conventions and other kinds of business visitors as well. That is an important move and a very welcome one”, she told Macao News.

Senna Fernandes meanwhile stressed that the MGTO was “working with different ways to divert visitors to different areas” of Macao in light of recent complaints of overtourism from some residents. She said the authorities had to juggle the needs of residents and some businesses who say that they don’t see enough benefit from tourism. 

“I think people are saying it gets too concentrated in one of two areas”, she said, “so that’s what we work on, to help different businesses in other parts of town get their share as well”.

She told Macao News that the city could use “more hotel rooms”, and welcomed “good [accommodation] products”, such as budget hotels, “coming to Macao, and not just in one area but scattered around the old part of town. That also helps to generate more traffic into different parts of town”.

Source: The Macao News -  reporting by Sara Santos Silva/Singapore

Preview image and image in news:  Sands China Ltd /Billy Yilu