While effective pandemic control is a prerequisite to economic revival, close public-private partnerships are the key to Macao’s success in demonstrating the resilience and innovation of its tourism industry, speakers at the ninth Global Tourism Economy Forum said on Wednesday.
In a special keynote address sharing Macao’s success story in reviving its tourism sector during the pandemic, Lei Wai-nong, Macao Special Administrative Region secretary for economy and finance, said tourism-related economic activities are gradually resuming in Macao thanks to its effective measures in pandemic control and prevention.
Since its first imported case of COVID-19 was reported on Jan 22, Macao has seen only 46 infections so far and no deaths, according to the Worldometer website.
“Since the beginning of this year, Macao has experienced a challenging period during the pandemic,” Lei said. “After evaluating the situation, the SAR government rolled out various supporting measures and devised plans for reviving the tourism economy.”
Hosted by the Macao SAR government, the forum was held online and offline on Wednesday under the theme “Solidarity and Innovation: Reshaping Tourism in the New Global Economy”.
After the COVID-19 situation became relatively stable, Macao started to promote local tourism, launched online promotions, and even held offline promotional events in Beijing, Lei said. “During the whole process, we received strong support from all sectors in society,” he said.
For example, from June through September, Macao conducted the “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” program. Twenty-five local tour routes were introduced, including new tourism products like a helicopter tour, Lei said.
The program not only helped sustain jobs, but also boosted consumption and supported the revival of the tourism and related industries, he said.
The fact that the Chinese mainland resumed issuing tourist visas for visitors to Macao on Sept 23 showed that it recognized Macao as a safe tourism destination and offered an opportunity for Macao to revive its tourism industry, Lei said.
“The occupancy rate of hotels has been steadily recovering, with individual tourists spending an average of 2.8 days in Macao,” said Lei, adding that other supportive measures have been introduced, including collaboration with e-commerce platforms and airlines as well as expositions and conferences via both online and offline formats.
Hu Heping, Chinese minister of culture and tourism, noted that Macao has not reported any new COVID-19 cases for over five months, and for that reason, he expects Macao’s tourism industry to further take off.
“Under the leadership of the central government, and supported by key strategies and policies like the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the establishment of a functional platform in Macao for the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the joint efforts from the Macao government and its people, I am confident that the socioeconomic development of Macao will resume rapidly and embrace new achievements,” said Hu, speaking at the forum’s opening ceremony.
“Macao is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Forum Chairman Edmund Ho Hau-wah, who is also vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
“With the advantages from the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and the strategic position of ‘one center, one platform, one base’, Macao will play its role as a key city in the Bay Area, integrate into the national development plan, and support the ‘dual circulation’ development pattern,” said Ho, who served as the Macao SAR’s first chief executive.
The term “one center, one platform, one base” refers to a world center of tourism and leisure, an economic and trade cooperation platform for China and Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as a cultural exchange and cooperation base.
Noting that Macao is now a tourism destination with a low level of COVID-19 risk, Ao Ieong U, Macao’s secretary for social affairs and culture, representing Macao’s chief executive at the opening ceremony, said solidarity of all countries and regions is needed for jointly tackling the challenges in the global tourism industry.