The MOP120 million domestic travel scheme, “Stay, Dine and See Macao,” has put the show on the road today. Macau residents can sign up for discounted tour and accommodation packages through over 160 local travel agencies, the director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) said yesterday at an explanatory briefing.
Compared to the previous version dubbed “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours”, launched in June 2020, the current scheme has a “larger coverage and introduced a novel element of accommodation,” MGTO director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes remarked.
The MGTO has roped in a greater number of tourism operators in Macau to realize the scheme. These include 800 professionals from 161 travel agencies, over 500 bus drivers, more than 500 local tour guides and 70 local hotels and inns.
“Through this scheme, we want to generate [financial] benefits for multiple parties across the city tourism industry, and also, to stimulate the domestic spending to revitalize the local economy,” she pointed out.
Each resident is granted a subsidy of MOP280 for a domestic tour and MOP200 for accommodation.
When questioned by the media why non- residents of Macau are excluded from the subsidy, Fernandes said that the scheme’s objective is to capitalize on domestic activity to stimulate the local economy.
Though they are not entitled to the subsidy, non-locals can also participate in the scheme by enjoying the marked-down original prices of the packages that cannot be found elsewhere, she explained.
Itineraries to revive community
A total of six community-based tour itineraries — with a stronger focus on Macau’s neighborhoods — will run from April 25 to December 31.
In the first stage from April to June, the six tours will only operate on weekends and public holidays to coincide with the school calendar.
In the second stage from September to December, a period which includes the school summer holidays, the tours will be run daily.
In contrast to the previous scheme, the six tours will bring the “Tourism +” concept to life — a tactic the MGTO has been using since the start of the year to facilitate collaboration between tourism and other sectors.
The tours will feature “Tourism + Culture”, “Tourism + Sports” and “Tourism + Ecology” activities. New elements include architecture touring at Nossa Senhora Village of Ká Hó, science learning at Cotai Ecological Zone, musical appreciation experiences, and more.
The previously well-received helicopter tour will be retained as part of the scheme, and will be augmented with new activities such as yacht sailing and afternoon tea.
All the tours will depart from the Outer Habour Ferry Terminal so that the MGTO can make a final tally of participants.
Each participant will be granted a MOP100 meal card for food and other expenses in all tour itineraries, except for the helicopter tour.
President of Travel Industry Council of Macau, Paul Wong, revealed that the Maritime Tour, a very popular activity in the last scheme, may be launched in the second stage as the vessel is currently undergoing maintenance.
Wu Wai Fong, chairman of the Macau Tourist Guide Association, told the Times earlier that the current tour package should also be extended to weekdays to create more job opportunities for local tour guides.
The domestic tours can alleviate their financial hardship to a certain extent, but “not enough to get them out of the woods,” Wu said.
MOP400 capped for each room
Over 70 local hotels and inns have participated in the scheme and will offer diverse staycation packages, Fernandes said at the briefing.
“We [the MGTO] encouraged the local accommodations to instill other travel offerings into the staycation packages to realize the “Hotel +” practice,” she said.
The scheme intended to increase the product diversity for staycation package for locals to choose at choice, she explained.
When questioned by the media why the subsidy is capped at MOP400 per room, Fernandes explained that the policy was based on the usual business practice of a maximum of two guests per hotel room.
Electronic lot is possible for helicopter tour
In yesterday’s briefing, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said that the authorities would not rule out the possibility of electronically drawing lots if the number of applicants for the helicopter tour exceeds expectations.
The two participating hotels — Jai Alai Hotel and Legend Palace Hotel — will also offer helicopter rides in their staycation packages, she noted.
In the previous scheme, the helicopter tour had been a great hit, with over 30,000 applicants. Its high popularity prompted the organizer to double the quota with two rounds of electronic lots. Nearly 2,600 residents signed up for the helicopter tour last time.