Tourism of Macao

11:17, December 15, 2009      

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Macao has a population of about 500,000 only, yet this small city plays host to more than 20 million visitors in recent years. Since tourism is the backbone of Macao’s economy, the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) clearly regards the gaming and tourist industries as the “head” and the service industry as the “body”, with other industries developing in parallel.

In February 2009, Macao’s tourist arrivals and non-resident arrivals totalled 2.25 million, and visitor arrivals were 1,652,377, down by 17.3% compared with February 2008.

The top three markets were Mainland China (827,804), Hong Kong SAR (540,668) and Chinese Taiwan (91,218).

As of the year-end of 2008, there were 17,490 hotel rooms. The hotel occupancy rate in December was 79%, a decrease of 4.1% over the same period in 2007.

Each visitor stayed for 1.1 nights in Macao on average in the fourth quarter of 2008. Each visitor spent MOP1,788 (USD223.5) on average, an increase of 4% comparing the last quarter, and visitors from Mainland China topped the chart with an average spending of MOP4,103 (USD512.9).

Rich Tourism Resources
Macao enjoys rich tourism resources with its centuries-old tradition as a meeting point of cultures and unique existence of gaming entertainment.

Macao has been dubbed the ‘Monte Carlo of the Orient’ since gaming has long been an important part of the tourism industry. Tourists are the main customers for the many casinos located in the peninsula of peninsula Macao and Taipa.

The MSAR liberalised the gaming industry in 2001 and granted concessions to three gaming operators with vast experience in different modes of gaming and entertainment operations. Thus, Macao would be able to diversify the industry, making it a truly delightful part of Macao’s tourism experience.

A Variety of Attractions
Other than historic architectures, Macao also offers a variety of sightseeing experience to tourists and its residents, such as the Macao Museum, which focuses on the history of the city, and other theme museums like the Grand Prix Museum, the Wine Museum and the Maritime Museum. The Macao Museum of Art and the Macao Cultural Centre also bring a variety of exhibitions and performances to residents and tourists.

Other tourist attractions include the Statue of the Goddess A-Ma located on the highest point on Coloane Island, the Statue of the Goddess Kun Iam out of the Outer Harbour and the Cyber Fountain on Nam Van Lake.

Mixed-Culture Charm
Despite being a small city, Macao has been one of the most important hubs for Eastern and Western cultures for the last four centuries. Now Macao's architectures, religious rituals, customs and cuisines reflect Macao's unique cultural heritage.

Macao’s famous historic architectures -- landmarks such as the Ruins of St. Paul Church, Fortress Hill and A-Ma Temple, and other centuries-old churches and temples -- have charmed visitors from all over the world.

Not only are these architectural heritages treasures of Macao, but they are also proof of a cultural merge that have made the world what it is today. With the support of the Central Government in the process of application, “The Historic Centre of Macao” was inscribed on UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List at the 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee in July 2005.

“The Historic Centre of Macao” incorporated a total of 25 historic monuments and sites, such as the A-Ma Temple and the Ruins of St. Paul Church, and many old buildings and squares.

Facilitated Individual Travel Scheme
Since China has resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Macao, visiting Macao becomes more and more appealing to its compatriots. In early 2002, the Mainland authorities relaxed restrictions to allow residents to visit Hong Kong and Macao in tour groups.

From 28 July 2003, residents of certain Mainland provinces and cities have also been allowed to visit the two cities as individual travellers under the Facilitated Individual Travel Scheme. At first people benefited from the scheme are only limited to residents in four cities in Guangdong Province, namely Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Foshan and Dongguan. Later, the scheme’s coverage gradually expanded to Beijing, Shanghai, the entire Guangdong Province and dozens of cities in other provinces. It is expected that the scheme would continue to expand and include more cities and provinces. As a result, Macao is looking forward to receiving an increasing number of visitors from the Mainland China.

Cuisines and Events
Macao’s unique mix of cultures and customs is definitely reflected in the form of culinary fusion. Macanese food, which is a fusion of Portuguese, African, Southeast Asian and Chinese cooking, has begun to gain international recognition after being enjoyed by locals for decades.

Throughout the year, Macao stages various international events such as the Macao International Music Festival, Macao Arts Festival, Macau Grand Prix and the International Fireworks Festival.

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