The number of Macao's visitor arrivals hit the record 21.99 million in 2006, the region's tourism industry chief said on Wednesday.
Joao Costa Antunes, director of the Tourist Office, told a press conference that the Chinese mainland remained as Macao's largest tourism market in 2006, occupying over 50 percent of the total visitor arrivals, followed by China's Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Capital cities of the five Chinese mainland provinces of Hebei, Jilin, Anhui, Henan and Hubei were included in the individual travel scheme from January 1, rising the number of covered cities to 49, said the official.
The plan, which aims to liberate the mainland tourists from the group travel control, has dedicated much to the tourism industry boom in Macao.
Macao is to explore the new tourism markets in East European and Middle East countries in 2007, Antunes said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2007)