The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is expected to improve Macau’s accessibility and uplift her association meetings potential
The new 42km-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) is bringing exciting hopes of more business events in Macau, thanks to its role in improving connectivity in the Pearl River Delta Region. Once ready, meeting delegates could travel more conveniently to nearby airports in Hong Kong and Zhuhai, reaching Macau via HZMB within 30 minutes, according to Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute.
Capitalising on the improved access, the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council have signed an agreement in October 2017, which requires both sides to work together to build attendance at business events held on their grounds.
For instance, Macau will actively invite enterprises, associations and government departments of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) to join in Macau’s trade events. An IPIM spokesperson elaborated: “For example, we plan to work with the Department of Commerce of Guangdong Province to (get) different trade organisations from GBA cities to participate in the 23rd Macao International Trade and Investment Fair and the 2018 Portuguese-Speaking Countries Products and Services Exhibition this October. The events will promote exchange and cooperation between the GBA and Portuguese-speaking countries through Macau’s events.”
The spokesperson added that “as connectivity between GBA cities improves, so will the opportunities to develop extended stays, pre- and post-show tours, social programmes, incentive itineraries and technical tours”.
Meeting planners and groups will benefit from a more diverse range of activities to suit their needs.
IPIM is particularly keen to leverage the HZMB to attract more association events from Guangdong. Its representative office in the Chinese province offers support services for enterprises and associations that are keen to invest in or stage conferences in Macau.
At the same time, IPIM is also showing off Macau’s ability to act as a gateway to industries in Guangdong. It is organising visits to the GBA for local and foreign enterprises meeting in Macau. For example, local and European attendees of the 2018 Macao International Environmental Cooperation Forum and Exhibition were brought on a visit to Jiangmen, Guangdong to study the region’s green industry developments.
MCI Group, director of live communications, Olinto Oliveira, looks forward to the completion and opening of the HZMB, as a means to overcome the logistic bottleneck between Hong Kong and Macau.
Oliveira explained that one of the biggest challenges associations face when meeting in Macau is transporting overseas delegates – particularly those from Europe and the US – who fly through the Hong Kong airport, as the Hong Kong-Macau ferry service is stretched having to serve a “constantly high influx of tourists”.
“Being able to bring delegates over by bus directly from Hong Kong International Airport to the doorstep of the event venue in Macau resolves this challenge considerably,” he said.
While the ease of getting to Macau is clear to see, Oliveira does not expect the HZMB to alter travel patterns or length of stays among visiting association meeting attendees.
Macau Explorer Cultural Travel, managing director, Manuel Wu, has chosen to downplay the potential impact of the HZMB on inbound association meetings to Macau.
“I don’t think the bridge will bring immediate benefit, because many international association meetings are still preferring Hong Kong, with Macau playing the role of a pre- or post-meeting leisure destination,” he said.
However, Wu believes there is potential to see more association gatherings in Macau in the long term, if the 7,000 associations registered under the Macau government leverage the improved access to conduct more international exchanges.
For Macau to see real results in the association meetings sector arising from the HZMB, Mandarin Oriental Macau, director of commercial strategy, David Lam, said the tourism authorities and travel trade players need to truly paint Macau as a “multi-interest and entertainment destination”.