Simultaneously, we do our own research here in Macao, collecting market data and feedback from our visitors: their overall opinion of Macao; what aspects of their visit make them want to return; and which attractions and tourism products they enjoyed the most. Successful research actually works both ways: you need feedback from people who have visited Macao as well as the aspirations of people who have not.
MM: Are there any specific countries that surprised you with the number of tourists that visited Macao? MHSF: Through our market research, we are generally fairly accurate with our tourism projections. There are occasionally rates of increase that we don’t expect, like that of Thailand, but that’s always a good surprise! We fully expected the number of visitors from Thailand to rebound following a few years of decline, but we didn’t expect such a big increase. One market, though, still below our expectations is Malaysia. We should be doing better there considering the size of its population, the general interest in Macao, and the availability of flights. This is one of the markets that we are looking to target next year. MM: In your opinion, why is there a gap with regards to Malaysia? MHSF: Malaysia should have enough general awareness of Macao, but I think more targeted product marketing of what Macao specifically offers is very important. Collaborating with local travel agencies and airlines that partner with Macao will be crucial as is finding a way to communicate with our target audience and
We are looking into on‑going and future attractions in the Cotai area that could be a potentially big draw for visitors, but I think the historic centre, with the Ruins of Saint Paul as an anchor, will continue to attract a lot of people
creating a buzz about visiting our city. Singapore, like Malaysia, will also be a market into which we plan on focusing our efforts in 2017.
MM: Do visitors from various countries experience Macao differently? MHSF: Yes and no because everyone is different. Our research on the most visited places in Macao indicate that the Ruins of Saint Paul is number one, while number two, surprisingly, is COTAI, which is always under development. We are looking into on ‑going and future attractions in the Cotai area that could be a potentially big draw for visitors, but I think the historic centre with the Ruins of Saint Paul as an anchor, will continue to attract a lot of people.
MM: Throughout the years, Macao has hosted an increasing number of events, shows and initiatives. What is the MGTO’s role in coordinating and integrating these events for a better tourist experience? MHSF: It is very difficult to implement an all ‑encompassing coordinated effort because there are so many local and international entities who want to do events nowadays. Outdoor events, in particular, present difficulties as Macao only has a certain window of months during which they can safely be held. The calendar for indoor events is also packed, so finding a suitable slot is not an easy task. Luckily, we see more venues opening up, so we will be able to spread the events out around town. In other cities, you might need a full day to visit one tourist destination, but in Macao, you can visit 10 locations in one day because everything is so close, just next door. We need to fill up the itinerary with a wide variety of things so people don’t get bored. Nowadays, with attention spans shrinking, if you want to capture people’s attention, you need to give them a lot of things to do, places to see and reasons to visit. Events satisfy these criteria well because they provide a fresh experience every time. It is very important to continue hosting events in Macao, but trying to schedule a reasonable calendar can sometimes be very difficult because everybody wants to do something different, and there are only so many slots to compete for. MM: More and more, Macao is focusing on turning into a world centre of tourism and leisure. What implications does this