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Tuesday, September 26, 2000, updated at 18:04(GMT+8)

Roundup: Macao SAR Sees Booming Tourism

The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China has witnessed a booming tourism sector this year and officials estimate the number of tourist arrivals may hit a new record.

Official figures show that more than 6.11 million tourists came to Macao in the first eight months of the year, an increase of 22.83 percent over the same period last year. In August alone, the number of tourist arrivals reached a monthly record of 900,974 which resulted in a growth of as high as 30.44 percent.

"In view of the current situation, there lies a great chance that the number of tourists this year will exceed that in 1996," Fernando Chui Sai On, secretary for social and cultural affairs of the Macao SAR government, said Tuesday at a tourism conference.

In 1996, tourist arrivals scored the highest figure of 8.15 million in Macao with a population of about 400,000. However, the Asian financial crisis and poor public securities in Macao in the following years deterred tourists.

With mounting tourist arrivals this year, the occupation rate in hotels rose 20.28 percent over the same January-August period in 1999. In particular, the occupation rate in five-star hotels grew 40 percent.

Analysts say the booming tourism is an ensuing effect of Macao's power transfer from Portugal to China. Macao is now better known by the outside world. In addition, improving public security prompts people to take Macao as a safe place for their holidays.

Tourism plays a key role in Macao's economy, yielding about 40 percent of the local GDP and employing one-third of the work force.

Hence, the SAR government gives priority to tourism development in revitalizing the economy.

Along with the official visits of the SAR's chief executive to France and Portugal in May, Singapore at the end of August and Japan last week, the governmental Tourist Office organized large-scale promotion activities to better promote Macao's tourism.

In addition, the Tourist Office organized delegations to attend tourism fairs in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Fujian Province, and other places in the inland areas of China.

From January to August, the number of tourists from the inland areas accounted for 24.7 percent of the total. And there is potential of more tourists, local tourism officials said.

Worldwide, the Tourist Office has established representative agencies in about a dozen countries and territories to enhance the contacts of people in tourism sector.

"The (SAR) government has spared no efforts to improve tourist facilities and upgrade tourist service," Fernando Chui Sai On said.

Beginning this year, the Tourist Office has stationed special inspectors at the Macao-Hong Kong Ferry Terminal and the Macao International Airport to handle complaints from tourists. From January to August, a total of 99 complaints were reported and 98 of which were settled.

Early this year, the Tourist Office put forward a new slogan --Macao Welcomes You, which can be seen at Macao's airport, ferry terminals, streets, buildings, bus stops and tourist sites. The move is aimed at establishing a brand-new image for Macao so that tourists can enjoy their stay here.

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The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China has witnessed a booming tourism sector this year and officials estimate the number of tourist arrivals may hit a new record.

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