Macau has the potential to attract repeat visits from mainland China consumers via non-gaming offers at the city’s casino resorts, looking beyond the exceptional trading conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Jane Jie Sun, chief executive of Chinese online travel service provider Trip.com Group in an interview with GGRAsia.
The appeal of Macau as a holiday destination for mainland tourists was strong, irrespective of the Macau government’s recent incentives programme, suggested Ms Sun. What would make such appeal even stronger, would be to offer more entertainment performances (example pictured) and sports events.
Since September 2020, Macau has been running a consumer-spending stimulus scheme aimed at mainland tourists, including discounts on flights and hotel rooms, to revive the city’s tourism trade amid Covid-19 disruption. Trip.com has been helping with that, via methods including distribution of consumer coupons.
The two parties have seen Macau-bound travel bookings made via Trip.com Group’s platforms increase by “244 percent” year-on-year for the first half of 2021, though the company did not specify the base number, according to a December 9 release.
Ms Sun noted, referring to Trip.com’s global business: “Although we have very good prices [offered] on our [booking] platform, we never brand ourselves as the lowest-price leader.”
She added: “The most expensive tour we sell costs US$200,000 per person, for a trip of 80 days around the world. Guess how long it took to sell these packages?… 17 seconds.”
The emerging commercial importance of mainland China consumers “born in the 1980s or 1990s”, was an “exciting” trend, as they had money to spare, and were willing to spend it on what marketers term “experiences”. Macau had the power to attract not only them, but also a variety of income groups and age groups from China
“In Macau, the language is not an issue: the food, in its variety, is also very suitable for Chinese customers,” Ms Sun said. Macau also had “interesting shows, and good hotels”.
She added Macau had “advantages and disadvantages”.
“Yes it is a small city, but it is so close to the mainland,” including neighbouring Guangdong, “one of the very rich provinces in the country,” making Macau a favoured destination for a weekend getaway, stated Ms Sun.
Once China’s restrictions ease on outbound travel, Macau would in likelihood face competition from overseas places seeking Chinese consumers’ spending.
Trip.com chairman James Liang, told a corporate summit held on December 9 in Macau and also attended by Ms Sun, that China might “in six months” ease travel restrictions for some overseas destinations, given mainland China’s progress in its Covid-19 vaccination programme, and improved medical resources for dealing with the pandemic.
On the sidelines of that event, Ms Sun had told GGRAsia that Macau’s effective management of the pandemic threat might help create the conditions for easing travel to the city. Currently, mainland China is the only place with which Macau has a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement.
“The city needs to keep thinking about how it can renovate its brand every year… Macau used to be just an old casino city, but now we have resorts,” Ms Sun said.
She also noted: “If Macau can have more concerts, shows, sports events, etc, we will be able to drive even more volume [of tourists] to the city.”
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