Making a Comeback 8-13-2003

A new marketing campaign and a burst of cultural activities aims to bring back the tourists to Macau

By: David Evans

Macau will have something of a carnival atmosphere over the coming months as the former Portuguese colony (now a Special Administrative Region of China) launches a campaign to win back tourist numbers.

Launched on June 28, the “Macau Welcomes in Summer” campaign will feature weekly contest draws, ferry-ticket promotions between Hong Kong and China and a series of concerts as well as cultural and tourism promotional activities.

Maria Helena de Sienna Fernandes, deputy director, Macau Government Tourism Office, said the campaign was designed to bring a carnival feel to Macau that would appeal to all visitors, whatever their country of origin.

“We acknowledge that we are a small destination ... but we rec-ognize the need to work with our partners in the region to create the momentum of coming to [Asia] and Macau will definitely stand to benefit from the spillover traffic and increased awareness,” she said. Despite having reported relatively few SARS cases during the recent epidemic, the territory suffered equally as tourists boycotted the region.

Between January and May this year, Macau received just 20,663 visitors from the United States, its fifth largest tourist-generating market and largest outside the region. This figure represented a fall of 33.04 percent compared to the same period the previous year.

De Sienna Fernandes said representatives from its tourism offices around the world had recently met in Macau to discuss marketing avtivities. She said the territory plans to step up its marketing campaign in the U.S., which could include adding a second tourism office to go along with the one in Los Angeles, this one on the East Coast.

“Over the next few days we are actually going to deliberate and debate upon what sort of activities and plans we should have for America,” she said.

De Sienna Fernandes said the government was also in discussion with United Airlines over the possibility of a fleet-wide in-flight promotional video. “We will be doing some in-flight programs on United Airlines very soon, she said. “We haven’t ironed out all the details but it is something that is being planned right now.”

Macau has introduced a number of initiatives and infrastructure developments stretching as far ahead as 2005 that it hopes will put the 8-square-mile territory squarely on the must-see tourist map. This year marks the Golden Jubilee of the Macau Grand Prix. Special features include classic car races, motorcycles and Formula 3 alongside the main events. There will be international firework displays over three weeks in November as well as a food festival, and the XVII Macau International Music Festival will be held between Oct. 10 and Nov. 2.

In an effort to help tourists get the best from Macau, the government has introduced a 24-hour hotline, electronic kiosks located on busy thoroughfares and a downloadable map from its Web site.

Among the major construction projects already under way is Steve Wynn’s latest resort, a Fisherman’s Wharf complex, the Chinese A-Ma Cultural Village and a new stadium for the 2005 East Asian Games.

Macau government Tourism office: 853-315-566;