Rosy Outlook Looms in Macao's Tourism Industry

Macao's tourism business is tipped to get another boost this year as Joao Manuel Costa Antunes,director of the Government Tourist Office, pledged Thursday to inject more than 186 million patacas (about US$ 23.3 million) into market expansion and overseas promotion of the visitor mecca.

The budget represents an increase of roughly 10 percent from last year, with which his tourist office will draw more visitors to Macao, make their stay longer and spur their spending in the city, the official told a press conference.

The number of tourist arrivals in the special administrative region (SAR) hit a record of more than 10 million last year, with those from the country's inland soaring by 30 percent year-on-year.

Visitors from Hong Kong and Taiwan, both large tourist sources for Macao, have been on a slight but steady rise over past few years.

As China's inland has loosened its policies to allow more tourists bound for Hong Kong and Macao, local tourism businesses and related industries are poised for the tourism boom in various ways, including the selection of a batch of travel agencies with good reputation to host the inlanders.

A special unit of the tourist office will soon open in Beijing to perform its bridge role between Macao's tourism enterprises andtheir counterparts in China's interior, according to Antunes.

The 2002 Tourism Promotion Plan, mapped out by the tourist office, calls for Macao to look into cooperative opportunities with the new markets in India and Indonesia while further exhibiting its image in the traditional sources including Hong Kong, China's inland, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Despite the acreage of just 20-odd square kilometers, Macao is rich in tourism and cultural resources, including many ancient andnew scenic spots and museums scattering all over the place, as well as a newly-opened sightseeing tower higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But Antunes pointed out that the "software" shouldalso catch up.

He said his office will endeavor to upgrade the services of local tourism businesses and related industries to let tourists "feel really at home." Reception training and other programs will be provided for students, employees by the tourism sector and social groups.

A law has been passed by the Legislative Assembly to crack downon fake and shoddy products and stores that blackmail tourists.

Antunes said that the opening of the gaming industry will add new tourist facilities and luxurious hotels to Macao, known as the"Oriental Monte Carlo", drawing more visitors and quickening recovery and prosperity of the overall economy.

"Macao is small, but we will make it different from other places," he told Xinhua in a recent interview. Enditem

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2002)

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