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Tuesday, June 12, 2001, updated at 16:32(GMT+8)

Rosy Future for Macao's Tourism

Macao is injecting new vitality to tourism, one of the most important sectors of its economy.

The special administrative region (SAR) government will exert efforts to encourage tourists from the outside to stay longer and spend more in Macao in the second half of this year, in order to give an impetus to the industry and even the economy as a whole, Chui Sai On, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, said Tuesday at the 2001 Tourism Marketing Meeting.

Latest statistics show that the number of tourists to Macao went up 13.7 percent year-on-year to 3.4 million in the first four months of this year, bringing a 1.3 percent rise in the occupancy rate of Macao's hotels.

Macao is a unique city with a blend of the Chinese and European culture, as well as a famous gambling center. The ancient Chinese temples, the Portuguese architectures and other historic sites have been well protected as the trademark of Macao.

Chui said that Macao will present the tourists more scenic spots. The Macao Sightseeing Tower will soon be completed, where the visitors can view the panorama of the city. The Fisherman's Wharf will be built into a tourist attraction with the combination of sightseeing, recreation and catering. Construction of the A-Ma Cultural Village is also under way.

When the A-Ma Cultural and Tourism Festival is held in October, tens of thousands of visitors will be presented with a myriad of activities, including a precession in front of the A-Ma Statue, a symposium on A-Ma culture and various art performances, as well as the opening and ritual ceremonies.

The SAR government will hold the International Dragon Boat Races, the International Fireworks Display Contest, the International Music Festival and the Macao Grand Prix this year.

Joao M. Costa Antunes, director of the Government Tourist Office, invited Tuesday the travel agencies from overseas to jointly promote the East Asian Games, which will be held in Macao in 2005.

The central government has authorized 54 travel agents in Macao to handle the 144-hour visas for foreign visitors traveling from Macao to the Pearl River Delta. "This will definitely facilitate the overseas tourism in south China," he said.

Macao has established transportation links with the outside world, and is improving its service to better serve the tourists. After the inauguration of Macao-Hangzhou air route and the resumption of Macao-Qingdao air service, the SAR will open more flights in the near future.

The Macao Government Tourist Office is applying for the establishment of offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as part of the efforts to lure more tourists from China's inland areas.

Macao reports a record 9.16 million tourist arrivals last year. Hong Kong, China's inland, Taiwan and Japan are the large tourist sources.

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Macao is injecting new vitality to tourism, one of the most important sectors of its economy.

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