A tourism product can only be successful if the local people also feel it is a valuable tourism product
regions like Hengqin, is there a plan for adjacent regions to complement each other’s tourism so visitors could benefit from both rather than choosing one versus the other? What about other cities in the Pearl River Delta? MHSF: Since 1993, we have had a joint tourism agreement with Hong Kong and Guangdong province. In the last 15 years, we have struck up more direct collaborations with Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Jiangmen – all interesting cities with World Heritage sites – that could use Macao as a base due to their proximity. We always want to extend the stay of our visitors for more than one night, but we can’t be that self‑contained. Opening up to partnerships with our regional partners will benefit us in the end. We have to make the pie bigger so that everybody can eat a bigger slice. MM: Do you think there is a need for modernisation in existing infrastructures, such as museums? Was the Grand Prix Museum’s renovation for its 50th anniversary following that initiative? MHSF: There is no fixed formula. I don’t believe that every museum should be a modern museum. However, modern technology can improve the presentation of exhibits where relevant. For example, we played around with the Grand Prix Museum because it features cars which are pieces of technology themselves. After researching other exhibitions and museum setups, NOVEMBER 2016
we felt that the Grand Prix Museum needed a revamp. The original design was not well‑suited for a contemporary mind‑set. Modern technology can also lend more convenience to public utilities that benefit local residents and visitors alike, but the challenge there is balancing the contemporary with the historic so a place doesn’t lose its character.
MM: How many tourists will Macao receive in 2016? MHSF: By the end of the year, we should hold steady at the 30 million mark, similar to last year. Currently, we are not looking to increase this figure. As of September, tourism numbers are similar to last year’s, and we would like to maintain that. This year has seen a 7 per cent increase in international visitors but a decline in tourists from the mainland. But attracting international visitors is more difficult because we are competing with other global destinations that offer more convenience and efficiency. For example, Macao doesn’t have robust infrastructures, like the airport, which is still a regional base. MM: Where do you see Macao at the end of the decade in 2020? MHSF: According to our masterplan for the tourism industry, the projection is an average increase of 3 per cent per year. We are not looking for bigger increases as that would not be a healthy or sustainable growth scale for Macao. MM: When you travel around the world, do you feel that people know about Macao? MHSF: Nowadays, definitely yes. But previously when I attended international trade fairs and said I was coming from Macao, I always had to explain it in relation to Hong Kong. Today, people generally have heard about the city from some news report or have actually visited. We see a lot more interest in Macao, and I often hear people say that they enjoyed their trip. MM: And that’s a reflection of the MGTO’s success? MHSF: I can’t take all the credit [laughs]! It’s a combined effort by a lot of people: the government, for one, but a lot of effort is also put forth by the private sector which, like us, is trying to attract more visitors.