Macau Government Tourism Office director João Manuel Costa Antunes presented the MGTO’‚s 2009 plan after revealing that 2008 statistics showed an 11% rise in overall arrivals to the territory, which like Hongkong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
Antunes gave an upbeat report and said it was important not to „call up a crisis‰ despite the effects of the financial turmoil and the volatile fuel prices of last year.
However, the figures also revealed some underlying trends that suggest that Macau remains vulnerable to political and economic factors outside its control. Ninety percent of all arrivals are from Greater China (Mainland China, Hongkong and Taiwan), with more than half (17.5 million) from the mainland itself. Tighter visa rules for mainland citizens and the opening up of new direct air links between mainland China and Taiwan are obvious challenges for the territory, Antunes conceded.
Despite the growth of large-scale conference and exhibition facilities, the total number of arrivals from the so-called MICE sector was less than 1 percent of all arrivals.
The figures also showed that only one in five of Macau’s visitors (5.92 million) stay overnight in hotel rooms, less than half of the 12.97 million overnight visitors book hotel rooms. The majority of the 30 million visitors are day-trippers.
The Las Vegas Sands congolomerate, which is spearheading Macau’s Cotai Strip developments, encountered substantial financial problems last year, resulting in the postponement of expansion plans.
A major focus of this year‚s promotions will be the tenth anniversary of Macau’s return to Chinese sovereignty from Portuguese colonial rule in December.