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Reviving Macao: Insights from MGTO Director Maria Helena De Senna Fernandes at PATA Annual Summit

MGTO Director Maria Helena De Senna Fernandes shares insights on Macao’s tourism revival, heritage, gastronomy, and future plans at the PATA Annual Summit, highlighting the city’s multifaceted tourism appeal.

During the PATA Annual Summit held in Macao, Maria Helena De Senna Fernandes, Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), shared her insights on the current and future state of tourism in Macao. This exclusive interview provides a comprehensive look at Macao’s strategy to rejuvenate its tourism sector post-pandemic, emphasizing its rich cultural heritage, culinary diversity, and ambitious future plans.

“Having the PATA event here is very special for us,” Fernandes began, expressing her joy at hosting the event after several years. “We’ve missed the world during the pandemic, and getting back to tourism is very gratifying.”

Macao is widely recognized as a major gaming destination. However, Fernandes highlighted the city’s other significant attractions. “Besides gaming, we pride ourselves on our history and culture. The historic center of Macao, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, and our designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2017 are crucial to our tourism identity.”

Fernandes elaborated on Macao’s gastronomic appeal, noting the blend of Chinese, Macanese, and international cuisines that attract food enthusiasts globally. “We aim to develop Michelin-star restaurants and value local cuisine, from food stalls to small eateries, enhancing Macao’s diverse culinary landscape.”

Addressing future plans, Fernandes mentioned the significant catch-up required since reopening to international travel last year. “We need to inform the world that Macao is open for business. New attractions, such as an indoor water park and a themed facility by teamLab, complement our historical and cultural offerings.”

Fernandes also outlined Macao’s “one plus four” strategy, integrating tourism with other industries like health, technology, finance, and sports. “We have ambitious plans. This year, we expect to surpass 33 million visitors, with over 2 million international tourists.”

Focusing on market expansion, Fernandes discussed recent promotional efforts in Northeast and Southeast Asia and upcoming events targeting European markets. “We participated in travel fairs in Tokyo, Singapore, and Jakarta, and we have events planned in Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Dubai. We are also engaging with European travel agencies.”

Macao’s tourism management leverages advanced technology, including AI, VR, and AR, to enhance visitor experiences and promotional activities. “We continuously adapt to evolving trends and platforms to better deliver our messages,” Fernandes explained.

Reflecting on the PATA Annual Summit, Fernandes expressed optimism. “With over 450 delegates and 200 participants in the youth symposium, the event’s turnout is promising. We leave the summit energized and prepared for the future.”

Macao’s tourism revival is clearly multifaceted, focusing on cultural richness, gastronomic excellence, and innovative future developments. As Fernandes concluded, “There is a lot of work ahead, but Macao’s future is bright and full of potential.”

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