IAG April 2015 - page 10

In Focus
relieveovercrowdingand spread thebenefitsof tourismmorewidely.
MGTOhasdevelopedeightwalking tour routesandarrangedcultural
performances along the routes.
According to IFT’sMrWong, thewalking tour routes underscore
aglaringflaw inMGTO’s strategy. “I donot feel that thegovernment
is working with the casino operators in attracting more visitors
from beyond China. Rather, the government seems to be doing the
opposite,” he says. “The eight walking tour routes are an excellent
example. There is a clear segregation of the tourism products along
each route away from the casino areas.” He believes the walking
routeswouldbemorecompellingand logical if they includedcasinos.
“What we should do [to] advance our marketing efforts inMacau is
not to segregate casinos but to make them [part of] an integrated
and attractive product,” Mr Wong says. “What I would suggest is
to leverage all the attractions, including casinos, shopping facilities,
museums, heritage sites, to provide tourists amore integrated and
complete travel experience.”
Ignoring casinos plays away fromMacau’s greatest strength,Mr
Wong believes. “We are among the best in casinos in terms of scale
and number. But we are not utilizing that in ourmarketing plan and
promotion strategy. On the contrary, we are promoting things that
arenot very attractive relative toother destinations.”
Mr Wong realizes embracing casinos may be as difficult as it
seems obvious. “I understand that the government—both Macau
andmainland China—do not want to promote gambling. However,
many tourists do like to visit casinos, even though they may not
like gambling. And casinos are very attractive to tourists, especially
mainlandChinese.”Henotes thatSingapore,whichkeepsacloseeye
on anything that smacks of casinomarketing, features aphotograph
of the Merlion, its national symbol, in front of the triple towers of
MarinaBay Sands in tourismpromotionmaterials.
“MGTO is putting a lot of effort into promotingMacau overseas.
Yet, it is not a promotion/communication issue,” Mr Wong, who
earned his PhD in communications and information services, claims,
it’s a product issue. “Our tourism products, perhaps other than the
casinos, arenotattractivecompared to the tourismproducts fromother
destinations.” TheMacau government’s 2014 visitor survey bears that
out: tourist attractions got a satisfaction rating of 40.4%, the lowest of
any category. Next worst was public transport at 65.6%, andMrWong
notes thatMacau’sgovernmentwants tocurbcasinoshuttles,which, in
his research, tourists rateasMacau’sbest transportoption.
“The key here is that we have to be theNo. 1 in something. And
the only way we can achieve that is through developing more and
better casino facilities,” Mr Wong says, particularly since Macau
faces greater gaming competition from destinations such as South
Korea. “WhatMacau shoulddo is to leverage its strength todevelop
more casinos—not necessarily [featuring] gambling and the gaming
floor—with more entertainment facilities and options. Shopping,
dining, shows and events, and heritage and cultural attractions
in Macau are wonderful options. We must utilize these existing
tourism products to create amore complete experience for tourists,
especially non-Chinese tourists, and to leverage the strengths from
the casinos,” Mr Wong says, including state of the art architecture
and interior design, round the clock operation and entertainment
options for adults, families and children.
“In essence, casinos should be built like a theme park and a
vacationwonderland.We havewitnessed the difference between the
contemporary integrated casinos, for example, VenetianMacao, and
the older ones. Think about Vegas. I think Macau will soon follow
the footsteps of Vegas.” Of course, Las Vegas first thrived relying
on visitors from nearby California and has since grown into an
international destination.
Editorat large
alsoblogs for
ongaming throughoutAsia
and wrote “Hong Kong On Air,” a novel set during the 1997 handover about TV
news, love, betrayal, highfinanceand cheap lingerie.
On thenegative side, the ferryride isn’t
agreatexperience, often concludingwith
longwaitsat immigration, particularly in
Macau.On thepositive side,Macauoffers
auniquehistoryand culturewith singular
attractions frommuseums tograveyards.
“If youhuntaround, it canbeavery
pleasant tourismanddiningexperience,”
By stagingmajor sportingandentertainment events,
Macau canwiden its international appeal.
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