Local travel agency and guide sectors “suffering” due to HK protests – Tourism Office Director

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, said today that the local travel agency and tour guide sectors have “suffered” due to the on-going protests in Hong Kong and that requests for financial assistance have been made by these sectors to her department.

“We have heard from the travel industry sector that they have quite suffered due to the incident because there is a sharp decrease in what we used to call the traditional Hong Kong-Macau tour groups,” Ms. Fernandes said during this year’s Global Tourism Economy Forum.

More specifically, the MGTO director stated one request for financial assistance from the travel agency sector has been sent with several opinions from both sectors sent to the tourism authorities on how assistance could be provided.

“These proposals are very general and we have to analysis them in much more detail because there’s not a solid mechanism through which to provide or execute those proposals, or either those proposals are feasible,” Ms. Fernandes added

Hong Kong has seen a high number of public protests for about four months, on several occasions disrupting the city’s transport infrastructure, from ferry services, the metro to its international airport, and leading to the closure of several businesses.

Meanwhile, the flow of visitors from mainland China to Hong Kong dropped 55 per cent during the Golden Week holiday period between October 1 and 7, with Chinese tourists representing the largest percentage of visitors to Hong Kong and Macau and with tour companies usually including the two SARs on their travel packages.

According to the MGTO Director although the number of travellers using travel agency companies has decreased that deficit has been covered by an increase in individual travellers.

“From the statistics that we are getting so far about visitor arrivals since the Hong Kong protests started we have still seen a steady increase in the number of arrivals when compared to last year.

“We are seeing more individuals travelling from Macau either from Mainland China or other places […] some of them come for shopping, to participate in events or for different reasons so I think there is a continuous structural change,” Ms. Fernandes added.

A total of 27.3 million visitors travelled to Macau between January and August of this year, an 18 per cent year-on-year increase, having gone up 11 per cent year-on-year to 984,996 during the Golden Week holiday period.

Ms. Fernandes noted that a stable growth rate in visitors has been recorded since the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in October, 2018.

The decrease in travel group visitors was also said to not have materialised in lower hotel occupancy rates, which were said to still be over 90 per cent, with no decrease in overnight visitors

Ms. Fernandes even noted that the number of visitors from Hong Kong to Macau has increased considerably during the period of the protests, by about 30 per cent year-on-year and even by 40 per cent during the Golden Week.

Therefore the MGTO Director concluded that the final number of tourist arrivals for 2019 should still reach the estimated 40 million number or be very close to that.

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