Mainlanders like to go to shopping malls, casino-resorts and modern buildings when in Macau, while most foreigners look beyond consumer tourism and seek to understand local culture and cuisine, an industry observer said.
Macau’s tourism authorities have focused too much on mainlanders, but it would be wrong to think that growth in mainland tourists will remain strong forever, noted Cheung Wang-ip, a chartered surveyor and a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
In a commentary piece published in Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po newspaper on Tuesday, Cheung called on Macau officials to step up efforts to attract more visitors from places outside mainland China.
Macau saw its total visitor number rise 8 percent to 18 million in the first seven months of 2014, compared to the same period last year, according to official data.
Among the visitors, 63 percent were from mainland China, representing an increase of 14.4 percent compared with a year earlier.
The Macau government has proposed to turn old tenement buildings into guesthouses for backpacker tourists to experience the local culture. It is also another way out for the hotel and tourism industry to attract more foreign visitors, Cheung pointed out.
Macau has just hosted the 8th APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting over the weekend. The event was attended by officials from 21 APEC member economies and international tourism organizations.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, who also participated in the meeting, said the central government had facilitated the meeting in Macau in order to show its support for closer tourism exchanges between Macau and other regions, state news agency Xinhua reported.
The central government supports Macau’s efforts to become a World Tourism and Leisure Center, Wang said.
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