Hong Kong and Macau gear up for joint tours to both cities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 January, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong and Macau tourism officials are close to finalising joint tours of the cities.

The multi-destination itineraries, which would mainly target Southeast Asia, could be ready by next month once airlines had set their fares, said Michael Wu Siu-ieng, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents.

Mr Wu said Macau enjoyed strong growth in visitors from Southeast Asia last year as more regional low-cost carriers flew to Asia's casino capital.

A spokesman for Hong Kong's Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said: 'Both [cities] will endeavour to work closely to develop and promote multi-destination itineraries with a view to attaining a win-win situation for the tourist development of the two places.'

Both cities are also promoting themselves overseas as attractive destinations for international companies to hold business meetings and incentive trips.

But shrinking corporate budgets amid the global financial turmoil would make 2009 a very bad year for this lucrative market, with business volume and participants likely to drop by more than 10 per cent year on year, Mr Wu said.

Raw data on visitors to the two cities suggests Macau attracted more visitors last year than Hong Kong. In the first 11 months of 2008, Macau recorded 27.6 million visitors and Hong Kong 26.7 million.

However, many of the people Macau counts as visitors are day- trippers.

These include tourists to Hong Kong making a side trip to Macau, as well as Hongkongers and people from the mainland commuting to work in the former Portuguese colony.

Fifty-two per cent of visitors to Macau in November did not spend the night there.

And 27.48 per cent of those Macau logged as visitors during that month came from Hong Kong.

'We are addressing this slight inaccuracy in our arrival numbers this year,' Macau Travel Industry Council chairman Andy Wu Keng-kuong said.

'Macau's situation is unique because every day we have thousands of people from Hong Kong passing back and forth through immigration because they work here. We need to better define Macau's arrivals.'