Ruins of St. Paul’s to give tourists better experience

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Issue 947, Page 3
Word count: 604
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A cross-departmental work team has been set up to improve the environment surrounding the Ruins of St. Paul’s, aiming to maximize tourists’ experience as well as enhance residents’ living quality there.

The Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT), the Transport Bureau (DSAT), the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and the Cultural Affairs Bureau (ICM) have come together to work on the overall plan for the world heritage area.

According to DSSOPT urban planning department chief Lao Iong at the public presentation yesterday, the current problems the Ruins of St. Paul’s is facing include “traffic chaos, inadequate tourism facilities, serious air pollution, weak connections between different world heritage attractions and the conflict between heritage preservation and private ownership”.

Lao said that businesses in the area cannot fully benefit from the floods of visitors as they “over-concentrate” in front of the Ruins of St. Paul’s.

In addition, traffic lanes, parking spaces and the four government quarters have destroyed the “interactive relationship” between the Ruins of St. Paul’s the Fortress, the Museum of Macau and also Tap Seac Square.

Vehicle emissions have also polluted the heritage and erosion to the statues, Lao added.

At present, a majority of Macau’s popular attractions “scatter” in various districts, which fail to deliver visitors from one tourist spot to another.

The plan aims to set the Ruins of St. Paul’s as the core of the “world heritage travel network”, which then expands to the Camões Garden, Tap Seac/St. Lazarus parish, San Ma Lou, the Inner Harbour and also the Guia Lighthouse.

The Ruins of St. Paul’s zone is going to become a centre of “cultural knowledge”, San Ma Lou and the Inner Harbour a “leisure shopping space”, the Camões Garden area to offer “featured casual dining”, and Tap Seac area a home of “cultures and creative arts”.

Besides historic preservation, the goals of the plan include environmental conservation in Guia Hill and the Camões Garden, community development such as to beautify streets and increase community facilities, as well as stimulate cultural and tourism industries.

Lao said the work team is going to explore more of the “hidden historic legacy” in the area, since “tourists will get tired very soon if Macau always has only one attraction to offer”.

The Ruins of St. Paul’s area, according to Lao, has the highest population density throughout Macau, with 110,000 residents per square kilometre.

Yet, the work team plans to retain such “community texture”, so that the people, who are mainly elderly, can continue to live there while tourists can also stroll around the area.

In order to contribute to a diversified economy, Lao said the business environment will be enhanced as a way to encourage and attract more different kinds of business operations.

On the other hand, Lao disclosed that the government will demolish the four government quarters for civil servants in Rua de D. Belchior Carneiro next month.

The work team is looking at the possibility of transforming that area into an archaeological zone and a temporary coach drop-off and pick-up point.

Lao said the work team will first collect public opinions and after that detailed planning will be outlined for each individual sub-district, “hopefully within this year”.

In January, the work team invited the architecture faculty from the School of Design and Environment of the National University of Singapore to attend a 10-day workshop in Macau.

The workshop specially looked at the design planning for the world heritage site in the Inner Harbour, Ruins of St. Paul’s, St. Lazarus parish and the Camões areas.

The delegation will deliver a report to the Macau government in the first quarter of this year.

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