Gov’t travel advice the final straw for tourism practitioners

The government’s entreaty for locals to avoid unnecessary travel during the Spring Festival is expected to be the final straw for some beleaguered tourist guides in Macau whose finances have been on the verge of ruin due to the pandemic.
The Chairman of the Macau Tourist Guide Association, Wu Wai Fong, told the Times yesterday she is “very concerned” that the offical announcement will soon deal a devastating blow to local tour guides.
The previous hope that tourist guides could turn their businesses around across the Lunar New Year came crashing down following the appeal, made on Monday.
“Due to the government’s advice, coupled with the worsening pandemic situation in China, Macau’s inbound and outbound tourism markets are bound to be severely undermined,” Wu stressed.
Macau residents are expected to be more risk-averse with regard to traveling into the mainland, given the rising number of Covid-19 cases there. The change in consumer behaviour is expected to be reflected in a lowered income for tour guides, who make a living through outbound trips to China, Wu stated.
Some of China’s municipal governments have already issued similar advice — or even measures — to implore residents not to set off on cross-city trips across the festival. These measures and advice are hoped to deter mainland holidaymakers from traveling to Macau, affecting Macau’s inbound market as well, Wu said.
However, she expects tourists from the Greater Bay Area (GBA) will be the least affected and will still travel to Macau during the festival. The region’s close proximity to Macau offers extra reassurance for them to visit the city.
“Even if there is a sudden lockdown, the GBA tourists can return to their hometowns in Guangdong province from Macau in a short period,” Wu explained.
As of now, Macau has a total of 1,970 licensed tourist guides. Since the pandemic, Wu has been securing jobs of other work types — be it part-time taxi driving or renovation work — for those who have been scraping by.
“Over 50% of our members had no choice but to change their career due to the pandemic,” she emphasized.
Wu believes that of paramount importance is to prioritize public safety during the festival.
However, she suggests the government should hand out financial aid to seriously affected guides, and most importantly, to create more job opportunities for those who have completely gone out of business.
According to TDM’s report yesterday, some local travel agencies have already reduced the number of trips to China, while some residents have also canceled planned trips to the mainland following the government’s advice.
In June, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced a subsidised programme for local residents joining tour groups organised by local travel agencies to travel around the city.
The programme aims to maintain the livelihoods of local travel agencies, tour guides, coach drivers and other related staff in the travel industry while also benefiting local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Honey Tsang

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