Tourism forum brings world to Macau

A major annual event, the Global Tourism Economy Forum brought industry participants from many countries together to discuss a wide range of topics. Brazil grabbed the spotlight.

The Global Tourism Economy Forum is one of Macau’s signature events, attracting tourism leaders, agents, business executives and many others from around the world to discuss issues related to the industry worldwide. This year’s forum brought up a number of interesting topics, including a startling one from Brazil: could Macau’s integrated resorts play a role in developing the South American country’s tourism industry?

Centered on the concept of “Beautiful Life” raised by President Xi Jinping, the two-day forum led forward-thinking discussions under the theme “Tourism and Leisure: Roadmap to a Beautiful Life”. The forum also hosted a World Tourism Investment and Financing Conference during this year’s event, focused on the potential of countries along the Belt and Road Initiative and across the Greater Bay Area.

Moreover, the Forum deepened its collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) by bringing the finale of the UNWTO Tourism Tech Adventure: SportsTech to Macau for the first time, to foster reform and innovation in the tourism value chain.

An unexpected highlight came on the first day, when Brazil’s tourism minister, Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, asked for feedback from participants on his country’s plans to invite investors to open resorts and theme parks. In response, MGM China’s chairperson, Pansy Ho, said that from a gaming operator’s perspective, Brazil has all the basic requirements to open an integrated resort industry.

Ho, who was one of the chief organizers of the conference, made the comments to a gathering of local and international media. According to her, Brazil should be able to develop similar types of integrated resorts to those built in Macau.

“I’m quite sure there will be some of the existing gaming operators that would be clearly interested [in investing],” she said.

There were no further public discussions on the issue, but it was a subject that is not likely to disappear and will surely be raised again in public discussion.

Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Forum Chairman of GTEF, Ho Hau Wah, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government and Executive Chairman of GTEF, Alexis Tam, and Secretary-General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, give a toast on stage

The forum had many other interesting meetings and seminars. Highlights included: the signature “Face to Face – Ministers and Private Sector CEOs” session in collaboration with UNWTO under the topic of “How Tourism, Leisure and Sports Lead to a Beautiful Life”; a press conference by official partner countries Argentina and Brazil; and destination presentations. A report was also presented, the sixth Joint Research Report on Asia Tourism Trends by UNWTO and the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre (GTERC).

Hosted by the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture, this was the forum’s eighth edition, and it drew close to 2,000 participants including ministerial officials of tourism and related fields, industry leaders, experts, scholars and participants from various countries and cities across the globe, along with delegations from Argentina and Brazil, as well as the featured Chinese province of Jiangsu.

During the forum, a ceremony was held, at which Secretary-General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, presented a formal letter of appreciation to Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam, for Macau’s contribution to development of human capital in tourism worldwide. The letter made special reference to the training programs offered to participants from UNWTO member states by the Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training at the Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT), in collaboration with UNWTO. In addition, Tam delivered to UNWTO a report on the initiatives and achievements of the IFT Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training.