Macao’s Tourism Bets in Portugal and Indonesia

Macao’s cultural assets were on display at last week’s Lisbon Travel Market (known by its Portuguese initials BTL) and also at the large ASTINDO travel fair in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

At BTL, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) showcased traditional lion dances, martial arts and a sampling of Macanese cuisine. MGTO director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, travelled to Portugal for the five-day event, which concluded yesterday.

Macao has been declared the Preferred International Destination for 2024 by the Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (APAVT). At BTL, the organisation presented MGTO with a special plaque to commemorate the designation, which Fernandes described as “a privileged platform to promote Macao among Portuguese travel agents.”

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Quoted by The Macao News, APAVT president Pedro Costa Ferreira said that his organisation was pleased to “rebuild Macao as a reference tourist destination” not only in Portugal, but also in Spain and wider Europe.

The organisation has launched an programme designed to teach Portuguese travel agents about Macao as a tourism destination and train up “Macao experts.”

The 34th edition of BTL attracted 1,400 exhibitors from around the world, and 63,000 visitors. It’s considered Portugal’s more important travel fair.

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The Macao News reported an MGTO delegation also attended one of Indonesia’s largest travel fairs, ASTINDO, which was held from 29 February to 3 March at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition centre, 30 kilometres from central Jakarta. It was the first time that a Macao pavilion had been set up at the fair, and the MGTO’s presence comes four months after the launch of direct flights between Macao and Jakarta.

Macao is hoping to ramp up the number of international tourists travelling to the SAR, to reduce the city’s overwhelming dependence on domestic tourism. Just under 1.5 million foreign passport holders visited Macao last year, less than half of their 2019 total.

Lawmaker Ella Lei recently urged the government to review its 235 million pataca campaign for diversifying the city’s sources of international tourists – noting that numbers were still low. While the MGTO says it wants to target the Southeast and Northeast Asian markets, Lei suggested there should be more emphasis on attracting visitors from Europe and North America.


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