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87


The Yanks are not coming D


espite Macau’s spectacular rise to eclipse Las Vegas as the world’s gaming capital, a rise partially fuelled by American


know-how and capital, the city has barely made a ripple in the American psyche. Government agencies are trying to turn this around. Macau struggles in the United States market to  nd a foothold


as a tourist destination as most Americans know nothing about it. This is re ected in the paltry numbers of Americans that visit Macau: 189,000 last year or 0.75 percent of all visitors. “There is still some misconception about Macau in the US.


Especially, some might think that Macau is just like Las Vegas,” the Macau Government Tourist Of ce said in a written statement to Macau Business. “We want Americans to visit Macau and see what the desti-


nation has to offer outside of the new hotels and preconceived notion it is only about gaming. We want Americans to discover the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Macau, the cuisine, and more,” it said. Beyond perceptions, there are some practical barriers, most


notably the lack of direct  ights between the United States and Macau. The vast distance between the two, the poor English here, and the lack of practical connections also make Macau a tough sell in the world’s biggest economy.


Drive time To help persuade Americans to visit, two of the tourist of ce’s 21


branches outside Macau are in the United States – in New York and Los Angeles. In the New York branch, on the upper  oor of a Fifth Avenue of ce building a couple of blocks from Times Square, tour-


ist of ce representative João Rodrigues works to educate the travel business and the media about the charms of Macau. Mr Rodrigues say most Americans he meets know that Macau


was long ruled by Portugal and they have heard about the new hotel developments. But he says many believe “Macau is like Las Vegas and unless you are a gambler, there is nothing else to do there. We have been working to change that misconception.” In the US, the tourist of ce focuses on the travel trade and


the media. The of ce also engages prospective tourists directly at travel shows. It emphasises special events, such as the Macau Grand Prix and the International Fireworks Display, and works closely in overseas markets with the China National Tourism Ad- ministration and Hong Kong Tourism Board. To promote the city, the tourist of ce also brings US journal-


ists to experience Macau and write about it. “In the past couple of years, over 50 journalists have been invited to visit Macau,” the of ce says. “Biggest successes include a lot of positive coverage in the media, including visits by TV personalities like Samantha Brown and Anthony Bourdain.” Both host popular travel pro- grammes focusing on food. “As our infrastructure improves more, we will be able to do


more promotions in the US with airlines and tour operators look- ing to sell Macau as a mono-destination,” Mr Rodrigues says.


M.C.


“Of course, casinos are part of the real Macau,” SJM Holdings chief executive Ambrose So Shu Fai says


JULY 2011


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