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Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of Macau Government Tourist Office

Publisher of Elite Traveler Asia, Tak Man, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of the Macau Government Tourist Office, at the WTTC Global Summit in Hainan, China. Traditionally, Macau has been viewed as a gaming destination, however perceptions are changing and with the diversified entertainment and shopping, Macau has become a true tourist attraction to everyone.

ET: In addition to gaming, what else does Macau offer?

MHSF: Macau has gained UNESCO World Heritage status because of our unique culture and rich heritage. Macau should be seen differently now, especially with the growth in entertainment for all ages and interests. In addition, we are also cultivating and catering more towards the MICE market, which is doing very well for us.

ET: What is your personal background in the industry?

MHSF: Before working with the government I worked in finance with an education in marketing. I have been working for the government for 20 years.

ET: What are some upcoming developments to help Macau continue on this road to success?

MHSF: This year we will be launching a new tender for a long-term tourism drive. We also just launched a Quality Tourism Services Accreditation Scheme; Starting with food and beverages. This will reward the merchants across Macau with a “Q Mark” program to ensure the best quality to our visitors. In addition, we are developing stronger products in the non-gaming area, such as sporting events and shows.

ET: What are luxury traveller’s expectations when they come into Macau?

MHSF: Obviously every overseas market is different and unique in the way that they react and accept information, so we must tailor a different strategy for each key market. China is and continues to be an important market for us. However, we understand the importance of developing for the international market. We are excited, as Korean visitors are a fast developing market for us. We find it very important to have an international mix, therefore we will continue to be flexible and cater to a diversified market.

ET: Do you have any major announcements at the moment?

MHSF: Always! We are very pleased to be hosting the APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting will be hosting in Macau this year. Our visitor numbers have been very high the last few years and we aim to always improve our product and set Macau as a tourist destination for luxury travellers.

ET: What does Macau provide to private jet travelers?

MHSF: I think Macau has a number of key ingredients that cater to your audience, including  very high-end resorts, Michelin starred signature restaurants and exclusive experiences to name a few.

ET: Thank you very much for your time. We look forward to seeing you again very soon in Macau!