Stronger attraction points

Macau’s unique blend of old and new, and improved access from Hong Kong and China, are coming together to attract meeting planners

Macau’s compactness but with enormous capacity within the integrated resorts for events make her one of the few destinations in Asia that can support large-scale gatherings.

And her popularity among association meeting planners is showing through ICCA’s latest ranking of top meetings destinations. Macau doubled the number of hosted international association meetings from 15 in 2009 to 39 in 2018. Last year, Macao Statistics and Census Bureau recorded 1,427 events, with association meetings accounting for 29.9 per cent (427 events) of them all, five per cent more than in 2017.

Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) said the growth was due to various reasons such as the government strategy of “giving priority to conventions” and the diversification of the local tourism sector into non-gaming specialisation.

According to the IPIM spokesperson, Macau as a destination offers meetings delegates an attractive contrast of the old and new.

“Besides the old and traditional Macau, visitors can also spend time at the integrated resorts where there are shows, concerts, shopping, dining and themed activities,” said the spokesperson.

Current recreational draws that would bring fun into any association meeting programme include the Golden Reel, a figure-8 ferris wheel at Studio City Macau; The House of Dancing Water show at City of Dreams, Macau; and Skytop Wave Pool at Galaxy Macau.

As well, Macau’s history as a former Portuguese colony with Chinese roots allow foreign delegates to experience the destination by taste. The unique Macanese cuisine is a fusion of Eastern and Western flavours, and many of the most authentic dining experiences can be found in the villages of Taipa and Coloane.

To make these unique experiences more easily accessible to association meeting planners, IPIM and industry partners have co-created a series of options that include almond cake-making workshop, calligraphy tutorial, archery on the beach, and visits to local night markets.

But beyond these softer – but no less critical – destination appeal, Macau’s attractiveness as a host city has been elevated with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The new bridge brings the three areas closer, reducing the Macau-Hong Kong commute to just 30 minutes and allowing Macau to be the hub where businesses and professional associations can easily come together for meetings and conventions.

Macau’s new strengths as a meetings city will be put on show when it hosts the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry’s (UFI) annual Asia Pacific Conference in March 2020. The event is expected to draw more than 300 exhibition leaders from all over the world.

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