Macao's tourism industry grew rapidly last year with a total visitor arrivals topping 27 million, an increase of 22.7 percent compared with 2006, said Chui Sai On, secretary for social affairs and culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government, on Wednesday.
In 2007, a number of major large-scale tourism and entertainment projects were completed and started to operate" bringing new opportunities to the sustainable development of Macao's tourism industry," Chui said at a press conference.
As of the end of 2007, there were 85 hotels and similar establishments in Macao with over 17,000 rooms, and the Macao Government Tourist Office (MGTO) has received more than 4,000 people in more than 300 familiarization tours to Macao, according to a press release from the MGTO.
Macao, an hour-long ferry journey from China's Hong Kong, has a population of 528,000.
Official statistics showed that the Chinese Mainland, China's Hong Kong and Taiwan are still the top three sources, and the mainland remains the largest source of the visitors to Macao, accounting for more than 55 percent of the total.
To sustain the rapid growth, Chui pointed out that the government will continue to consolidate the major source markets, adding "we will continue to develop more regional tourism brands and multi-destination itineraries in the region."
Last year, the tourism authorities of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have reached consensus to readjust the current cooperation mechanism and intensify joint promotions to build a world tourism brand for the three districts.
Meanwhile, the international markets will also be actively explored, he said, adding "we will work hard to sustain the growth momentum of the Southeast Asia market, and at the same time, boost arrivals from mid and long haul markets such as America and Europe."
He also said that the government will also promote Macao's tourism in potential markets like the Middle East, Russia, Vietnam and Indonesia, so as to diversify the city's tourism market portfolio.
Besides its worldwide reputation for gaming, the government is also eager to promote Macao's image as an international destination for multiple culture, sports and exhibition events.
A number of world-renowned large scale events and cultural activities including Macao Grand Prix, Macao International Fireworks Display Contest and Macao International Music Festival, all of which helped attract tourists to the SAR, while at the same time enhanced the special administrative region's international image, said Chui.
In order to deal with some problems maintaining in tourism sector, Chui noted that the government has stepped up its regulation over all the travel agencies, established a system to solve the problems and a hot line through which tourists can ask for relevant assistance from official institutions.
(Xinhua News Agency January 10, 2008)