have and what remains to be done in terms of development as the city transforms into a favourite destination for international tourists? MHSF: People have the impression that “world centre of tourism and leisure” refers only to tourism, but in fact, if you look as the aspirations of the Macao Special Administrative Region, the government has a broader definition that encompasses a good heath‑care system, an efficient transportation infrastructure and a convenient and comfortable lifestyle for local residents in addition to being a destination for visitors. In terms of tourism, what we need to contribute to this concept of “world centre of tourism and leisure” is twofold: on the one hand, offering a diversity of products, and on the other, attracting a diversity of visitors. We can’t just be a destination for Chinese tourists; we need to give Macao global appeal so we can proudly say, “This is an international destination, not just a regional one.” Therefore, we need to go out and spread the word about Macao and make it clear that the city isn’t just about gaming and our heritage. MM: What strategies are in place to balance improving the tourist experience and preserving the quality of life for local residents?
MHSF: Of course, overcrowding is a common issue when expanding tourism, but this is not purely the responsibility of the MGTO nor is it a phenomenon exclusive to Macao. We are actively in dialogue with the locals regarding the value of tourism through our awareness campaign, which includes educating residents in hospitality and making our visitors feel welcomed. The MGTO is also developing a campaign we call Community Tourism which promotes places of interest within Macao’s different districts, for example, the statue of A‑Ma in Coloane. This requires not only having an awareness of places to visit but also knowing the logistics of how to get there, so we coordinate with various departments within the government such as transportation, law enforcement, etc. It has to be a combined effort by our society as a whole. This is, of course, easier said than done, but we all have to make an effort and put our best foot forward. I often say that “a tourism product can only be successful if the local people also feel it is a valuable tourism product.” Generally, places dear to locals inspire and excite tourists to visit, not the other way. Visitors come because they want an authentic experience: they want to see the places that the locals love and sample local cuisine.
MM: Would you consider the people of Macao welcoming to tourists? MHSF: The local people are very hospitable. When they see someone who looks lost, they try to point them in the right direction even if there is a language barrier. The desire to help is definitely there. The MGTO will continue our campaign in hospitality awareness, especially amongst the younger generation, because the future of Macao’s hospitability rests on their shoulders. MM: Macao’s relatively small land area limits the number of new attractions we can offer. With the development of neighbouring