Tempting tourists back

Tourists are expected to return tomorrow. Following an uncomfortable hiatus caused by Typhoon Hato. The President of the Macau Travel Industry Council talks to Business Daily about the sector.

The MSAR will be ready and able to receive package tours after September 2, the President of the Macau Travel Industry Council, Andy Wu Keng Kuong, has assured Business Daily.
“After previously meeting with Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) we took into consideration the recovery of the water and energy supply, together with the conditions and recovery period of the city’s streets, hotels and other tourism facilities. Then we jointly agreed the city would be ready once again to receive package tours after September 2,” Mr. Wu told Business Daily.
The Macau Travel Industry Council President also told Business Daily that the industry was not worried about possible losses to their business during the period, since they “place the recovery of the city as their main priority”.
The MGTO held urgent meetings with representatives from travel agencies operating in Macau and hotel associations, one after Typhoon Hato and another after Typhoon Pakhar, with a consensus reached first that tour group arrangements would resume on August 30, but later changing the resumption date to September 2.
While MGTO believes the period will allow the recovery of the city’s roads - plus local conditions for hospitality and image - the other involved parties believe the period will provide members of the trade with an opportunity to restore their facilities and services.
Representatives from MGTO told Business Daily that the arrangement did not involve any enforcement over travel agencies, with no infractions to be incurred should a company decide to operate during the agreed period.
The department also stated it would contact the China National Tourism Administration and its counterparts in Shenzhen and Hong Kong to facilitate the co-ordination of package tour resumption.

Business as usual
As of June this year, some 224 travel agencies and 1,871 tour guides were operating in Macau, with a total of 669,600 visitors having arrived on package tours or joined local tours in June.
According to the most recent information provided by MGTO, 61 of the 64 3 to 5-star hotel establishments in the city already had full access to water and electricity, with two establishments un-contactable and one without power and water supply.
Meanwhile, of the 45 2-star establishments in the city, 26 had access to water and energy, 13 could not be contacted; four had no access to water, and two had no water or power supply.
MGTO told Business Daily that “considering the difference in sit­uations experienced by each travel agency and hotel in the aftermath” tour group numbers are “ex­pected to increase gradually”.

Breathing period
Tourism and hotel industry researchers at the University of Macau (UM) were unanimous in agreeing that the advantages of having a suspension period far surpassed its short-term economic impact.
According to University of Macau’s Professor Glenn McCartney, a specialist in integrated resort management, the economic impact of the suspension of package tours likely had a larger impact on gaming operators, hotels and other businesses that are more dependent upon mass-market tourists.
However, having a recovery period and a set date to resume tourist tour operations would be important to convey the message of “going forward” and of being “open for business” to outside travellers.
“This says ‘we’re ready to receive you in a safe manner and we have the infrastructure’ […] Recovery has to be very well managed because it sets the tone in the months ahead and allows business to get back to Macau” Professor McCartney stated.
Meanwhile, Associate Professor of International Integrated Resort Management Amy Siu-Ian So told Business Daily that the decision was positive for both residents and tourists.
For Ms. So there could be an increase in visitation to hotels and casino properties on Cotai during the initial opening up period - with the Macau Peninsula having been affected to a greater level by Typhoon Hato – however, that increase is likely to be only “temporary” and would not make a “great difference in the long-run”.