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  REPORT - MACAU Part 2. Asia’s next destination
 

PORTUGUESE-CHINESE CULTURAL CROSSROADS BECOMES A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE AND A CONFERENCE HUB
Unprecedented growth in harmony with heritage

Cultural tourism is an irresistable part of Macau’s attraction, complemented by its new, spectacular multi-entertainment developments.

Sky-rocketing tourism and a stunning metamorphosis in its gaming venues are transforming Macau into Asia’s premier entertainment capital, all fortified by a devoted commitment to preserving its unique history, culture and charm.

Just as Macau’s economy is on fire, tourism figures for this tiny autonomous region of China are escalating in an unprecedented fashion, and Macau’s 10 square miles, which are spread over its peninsular tip and the two islands of Coloane and Taipa, are generating some of East Asia’s most promising trends in revenue. GDP growth throughout the last five years has been double digit, registering an astounding 28% in 2004, and visitor numbers have increased 76% since 2000. Emerging from the shadow of its more famous cousin, Hong Kong, Macau is simultaneously capitalizing on its unique Portuguese heritage and its ties with China to build one of South East Asia’s most interesting tourist destinations.

Special visa schemes are boosting the number of visitors from mainland China, who represented nearly 60% of total visitors in 2004, and the region is expecting a record 20 million tourists this year.

With the government intent on transforming Macau into one of South Asia’s preferred family-oriented destinations and conference hubs, these aspects of the region’s tourism industry may well exceed its famed gaming attractions as the main draw for regional visitors in the future.

FERNANDO CHUI SAI ON
FERNANDO CHUI
SAI ON
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture

At the recent opening of the Pacific Asia Travel Association annual conference, Macau Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Fernando Chui Sai On said that the government was “determined to direct Macau into an international convention, exhibition and recreational center”, and pointed to the number of new facilities now under construction that prove that the region is entering a new phase of development in its tourism sector, which includes a variety of new family-oriented shopping malls and theme parks. Macau will also host the 4th East Asian Games this year, in addition to its annual Grand Prix race and a number of other festivals. Dr. Chui Sai On also affirmed that the government would continue to work towards preserving the region’s cultural heritage and to promote it as a valuable tourism resource. Since 1999 it has spent 150 million patacas (almost $19 million) on the protection and maintenance of Macau’s 12 priceless cultural heritage sites. In July 2005 UNESCO inscribed the historic center of Macau on the World Heritage List, providing a positive in¾uence on future urban redevelopment programs.