Our Desk | Brace yourselves for the oink

Lynzy Valles

The local tourism bureau has recently announced its tourist arrivals estimate for the Spring Festival starting today, forecasting an 8 to 9 percent increase when compared to the same period last year. 

This year’s forecast is much higher than last year’s forecast of 3 to 5 percent, with the bureau citing the operation of the highly expensive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge as the reason.

The city hosted over 958,000 visitor arrivals during the holiday period last year.

This year’s increased forecast also means that there should be more tourists on the streets, not to mention the long time it would take for one to go from Leal Senado to the Ruins.

I mean, on normal days this particular street, which leads to the Ruins, is full of tourists, along with vendors who try to entice them with almond cookies and beef jerky.

Thus, what more can we expect this upcoming festival?

I bet a huge number of photobombers ruining Ruins selfies, or the decorations at Leal Senado will be the norm.

According to the bureau, it has geared up for the seven-day festive period with a series of proactive measures including a system that monitors visitor flows, allocating manpower at tourist spots to attend to visitor enquiries, and other efforts, such as activating tourism notifications.

Last year, it was also proposed that the efficiency of checkpoints should be improved, and that the Macau government should communicate with the Gongbei immigration department in order to improve the management of the Gongbei immigration station during holiday periods.

Therefore, the bureau announced that it had collaborated with the Department of Culture and Tourism of Guangdong Province to operate a “Tourism Notification System for Spring Festival Golden Week,” with close communication throughout the period to ensure hassle-free hospitality for travel between Guangdong and Macau.

In a city as dense as Macau, it is difficult to accommodate the surge of Chinese New Year travelers.

I hope a measure to minimize taxi infractions during the festive season can also be reinforced.

To recall, last year, the SAR recorded some 352 taxi infractions, including a humiliating 250 cases of overcharging – not to mention those who refused to file similar complaints to the Consumer Council.

It is known that providing ease of transportation, particularly taxi rides, would improve tourists’ experience of the city.

I reckon it is not enough that only the tourism bureau works on bettering the experiences of visitors in the region, but rather a collective effort is needed to ensure that a city like Macau – though overcrowded – is actually ready to welcome a million tourist arrivals this festive season.

To welcome the Year of the Pig, Chief Executive Chui Sai On pledged to “excel in [Macau’s] response to whatever challenges the coming Year of the Pig might bring.”

In Chinese culture, pigs symbolize wealth, and their “chubby faces and big ears” are signs of fortune.

Although no one can really know what will come to be for the SAR this year, Chui called for efforts to “infuse the Macau community with positive energy and to help Macau overcome any difficulties.”

It is just unclear which types of difficulties he was alluding to, or whether the “difficulties,” such as taxi infractions or imported labor quotas, are among a series of long-awaited matters in the city that are still waiting to be resolved.

Categories Opinion