Tourists flock to Macau to enjoy “unique” festive atmosphere

Friday, January 30, 2009
Issue 597, Page 2
Word count: 675
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Although the Lunar New Year holiday had already come to the end on Wednesday, an influx of tourists especially from mainland China and Hong Kong can still be seen flocking the streets, restaurants and entertainment venues in Macau.

According to figures from the Public Security Police Force, as of 9pm yesterday more than 163,000 passenger arrivals were logged in all of Macau’s borders. Of which, 51,000 were Macau residents, whilst mainland and Hong Kong visitors accounted for respectively 58,000 and 42,000.

Being possibly the most important festival for Chinese communities, a lot of people will usually enjoy a longer break than the original three-day statutory holiday and some retails will also close for up to a week.

On the fourth day of Chinese New Year yesterday, large groups of tourists could still be seen in major areas across Macau, especially in some big casino properties as Chinese people believe that they would have a higher chance to win bets during this festival.

Apart from entertainment, a lot of tourists were after traditional Portuguese or Macanese food which they could not find at home.

A café in Macau’s down town area, which sells one of the most popular sweets in Macau – Portuguese egg tarts – was seen with a long queue that ended few metres away from the store all day long.

Ms Mok and her boyfriend, who were lining up outside the café, spent two days of their holidays in Macau and went back to Hong Kong last night.

She told the Macau Daily Times they had been to Taipa before coming to the Macau Peninsula, and their main itinerary was about “tasting good food and visiting casinos”.

When asked how the festive atmosphere was different between Macau and Hong Kong, the 25-year-old said Macau had a “stronger feeling of Chinese New Year as firecrackers are allowed here”.

However, the Macau government perhaps needed to put more efforts in promoting the firecracker discharge area in Nam Van especially among tourists.

Ms Mok said she did not take the opportunity to set off firecrackers as she had no idea where the discharge area was and where she could buy firecrackers.

“I’m afraid that Macau has a lot of restrictions like in Hong Kong,” she added.

The couple also said that their budget for this trip was about 2,500 Hong Kong dollars each, including hotel, transport and other expenses.

Not only did restaurants see long queues, taxi stands outside most of the major casinos also had about 25 to 30 people waiting constantly.

Within a 15-minute walk in Macau’s down town area, the MDTimes could hear for two times tourists on the streets complaining it was hard to get a taxi.

Meanwhile, Mrs Chan, who came to Macau for just a day with her family, also said that Macau’s festive atmosphere of the Lunar New Year was “better than Hong Kong’s, probably because here is so crowded everywhere”.

Due to the current economic climate, the mother of one admitted that she would opt for short or day trips, adding she was prepared to spend about 2,000 Hong Kong dollars in Macau yesterday.

Mrs Chan also told the MDTimes she and her family liked to “eat and visit places”, whilst gambling was always the last choice.

However due to the Chinese traditional belief that people will have more luck during New Year, Mrs Chan said she and her husband might go gamble later the day and then visit the firecracker discharge area with her daughter.

The housewife also said that dining in Macau had become more expensive, but added that it was “normal” for restaurants to raise prices.

In order to attract more customers in this peak period, local casinos also held a string of festive celebrations and put up distinctive Chinese New Year decorations around the property to boost up visitors flow.

The Port Authority had said that a high number of border crossings would still be registered until the end of the week as most people will start to get back to work on Monday.



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