MGTO presents new projects on ‘smart tourism,’ reviews preliminary results

Helena de Senna Fernandes (left) and Herbert Choi

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) presented the preliminary results of developments related to the construction of a “smart city” and what that means for the field of tourism.

The outcomes were presented to the media at a press conference held yesterday afternoon at the Transport Bureau (DSAT) that was attended by the director of MGTO, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, as well as Acting Head of Organizational Planning and Development Department of MGTO, Herbert Choi, and the Senior Expert of Machine Intelligence of Alibaba Cloud, Zhu Jintong.

At the event, Fernandes outlined three main projects on which MGTO has been working together with Alibaba Cloud, that are nearly concluded and are expected to enter into operation early next year.

The projects relate to: the “Tourism Information Interchange Platform,” the “Application for Visitor Insights” and the “Smart application for visitor flows.”

“The projects are basically completed and expected to come into service early next year,” Fernandes said, adding, “I believe that by the variety of functions [they possess], the projects will bring convenient experiences for visitors, tourism businesses and events to the residents of Macau.”

As often explained by the director of MGTO, the use of such instruments and tools will serve to “review policies using technology.”

Choi explained further that the goals of smart tourism are at three different levels (visitors, citizens and tourism industry), adding, “We want to improve the experience of visitors in different phases: before, during and after their stay in Macau through the different ‘smart tourism applications’; using big data to obtain information on the behavior of visitors from further analysis; and to use information technologies to monitor and to detour people in the overcrowded areas.”

As in previous presentations of results from different sectors, the MGTO responsible also noted that the larger part of the first phase was dedicated to the preparation of infrastructure and platforms that would allow the exchange of tourism data, noting that, “when it enters into operation in early 2019, we will start to collect and analyze big data and aim its practical applications at different aspects.”

Questioned by the media,  Fernandes revealed that the government has invested a total of MOP19 million in the three projects, but is open to further investments “depending on the future needs.”

Among the new tools that will be used to collect and analyze the data are new mobile applications and a brand new website from MGTO that would offer a more interactive experience and a better flow of information to and from visitors, such as the timetable of museums and others venues, and the real-time and forecasted occupancy of such locations. Included also would be schedules for events and activities in a range of areas.

Choi announced that the new web tools would be ready to enter into operation in the second quarter of 2019.

In regards to challenges, Alibaba Cloud representative Zhu highlighted the diversity and quantity of data that needs to be collected and integrated, giving examples of such information as entries, exits, hotel industry figures, services and numbers of visitors to the different venues and sites. “[The system works in] three chambers: the first where we collect data, the second where we compute that data immediately and the third where it is made available to share on the exchange platform,” Zhu explained, noting that such data is not used only by MGTO but, for instance, shared with departments such as DSAT to coordinate with bus needs and routes and other services.

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