Skift Take

Macau wants to diversify its China-heavy arrivals. Indonesia is a good bet, as many Indonesians already visit Hong Kong. But the timing of the campaign isn't good.

A campaign to drive more Indonesian visitors to Macau has launched despite the  protests in Hong Kong, the gateway for Indonesians to Macau.

WebBeds, together with the Macau Government Tourist Office and several prominent Macau hotels including MGM Cotai and Hotel Lisboa, have gone ahead to launch the campaign, which encourages travel agents in Indonesia to book room nights in the enclave by offering incentives such as a tripling of WebBed reward points and special room rates from August 1 to December 31.

But Daryl Lee, CEO Asia-Pacific of WebBeds, denies that the campaign is a means to increase bookings to Hong Kong. Indonesia is Hong Kong’s seventh largest short haul market (excluding mainland China and Macau), contributing 267,712 arrivals in the first half of this year, a 3.7 percent increase over the same period last year, according to Hong Kong Immigration figures.

“This isn’t a tactical but strategic campaign with our new partner, (the Macau tourism office), to build up a non-traditional source market to Macau. We both agreed that Indonesia has legs. The numbers going to Hong Kong are already reasonably strong, but not many are visiting Macau, or may be they are making only day trips thinking that Macau is just for gamblers. So this campaign is designed to raise awareness, over time, of what Macau could offer Indonesian travelers,” said Lee.

“We did ponder if we should postpone due to the troubles in Hong Kong, but decided to go ahead as this is not a short-term campaign but a medium to longterm plan to get Asians to go beyond their usual places.”

Besides, Lee maintained that WebBeds has not seen a drop in the number of room nights for Hong Kong. The average daily rate indeed has dropped, he said, and by as much as close to 50 percent. But this has made Hong Kong “really attractive” for visitors from Southeast Asia and India, he said, who balance out “some weakness” of Hong Kong’s major source markets such as China, Taiwan and South Korea, which are heading for alternative destinations.

Strongest Drop

Macau received 35.8 million arrivals last year, 71 percent of them from China and another 18 percent from Hong Kong, MGTO statistics show. The destination’s effort to diversify market sources see Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, the U.S., Thailand and Indonesia comprising the rest of its top 10 sources last year.

Interestingly, Indonesia, 10th on the list with 173,836 arrivals in 2018, fielded the largest drop (12 percent) in arrivals compared with the other two in the top 10 — South Korea and Thailand — that also declined last year (-7 percent and -8.5 percent respectively).

That’s one reason why Macau is keen to get the campaign going. A statement also says the Macau tourism office believes in Indonesia’s strong prospects due to its “rising influence” and the country’s vast population of 264 million.

Macau hotels share the view. “By working together to offer exclusive trade rates for this campaign, we hope to extend our reach into Indonesia, attract even more guests from this important market, and show how many wonderful attractions our city has to offer,” said Korwin Tsang, senior sales manager of Hotel Lisboa Macau.

There are direct flights from Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan and Denpasar to Hong Kong International Airport, while the Cotai Ferry and TurboJet offer fast sea transfers to Macau from the airport.

Macau is promoting itself to Indonesians as a thriving port city in the Pearl River Delta that embraces centuries of Chinese, Portuguese and international influences.

“While the city is famous for its impressive integrated resorts, especially along the glittering Cotai Strip, it also has a wealth of cultural landmarks including its historic centre, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2005 and comprises multiple sites including the famous Ruins of St. Paul’s, Senado Square and the Moorish Barracks,” said the Macau tourism office in the statement and, no doubt, at a workshop hosted by WebBeds for local travel agencies at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Jakarta.

For Muslim travelers, it says Macau offers a range of “suitable and sensitive” activities, including several halal restaurants and the Macao Mosque and Cemetery, which is “a charming place” to visit and displays the territory’s rich multicultural heritage.


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Tags: hong kong, macau

Photo credit: Ruins of St. Paul's, Macau. WebBeds Asia-Pacific

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