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JAN-FEB 2018 25 meetings & conventions • Words Catherine Nicol WHY GO? The growing MICE market, especially in Cotai where some of Asia's largest and newest spaces can be found, looks set to skyrocket, especially when the Hong Kong– Macao–Zhuhai Road Bridge opens up accessibility later this year. Macau gets new connections mainland China, plus the upcoming bridge. "The HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will significantly reduce travel time among the three regions, which is a great advantage to most conference organisers and their attendees," says Victoria Fuh, VP of resort sales, MGM. Bruno Simeos, managing director of DOC DMC Macao believes the bridge will be a game changer. "We already have resources and capacity, the bridge will create the access we don't have yet. The psychological effect of shuttle buses connecting Hong Kong to Macau instead of just the ferry will be felt in 2019." Fuh adds the bridge "also helps to explore new multi-destination tourist routes within the proximity." The government's Guangdong Hong Kong Macao Bay Area initiative will also work to enhance collective tourism to Macau and showcase the city well. According to the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) 2017 saw a 5.1% increase over 2016 in visitor arrivals, reaching just shy of 30 million January to November. International markets (other than Greater China, which garnered 90% approximately of visitor totals) were spearheaded by Korea and Japan with double-digit growth of 34.7% and 10.8% respectively, plus a surprise 13% jump by Brazil. Also solid were Japan with just over 300,000 arrivals and the Philippines "The HK-Zhuhai- Macau Bridge will significantly reduce travel time among the three regions, which is a great advantage to most conference organisers and attendees" – VICTORIA FUH, VP OF RESORT SALES, MGM. with around 275,000, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and USA. In a bid for increased MICE tourism, Macau is continuing to promote the Travel Stimulation Program with 2018 focuses on the Greater China region, Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. There is also bidding and event support for international conference organisers and the Green Lane fast-track visa service for event delegates at the Macao International Airport, both ferry terminals and land borders. With the government's "Priority to the Convention Industry" and "Conference Ambassador" programmes, a spokesperson at Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) says, "We are experiencing unprecedented growth and discovering new market opportunities as our product offering diversifies and our capacity for large-scale events expands. Macao is equipped with some of Asia's newest and largest venues covering more than 190,000sqm of exhibition and meeting space." Additionally, there will be access to two international airports and Macau strengthens its existing connections with the soon- to-be-completed HK-Zhuhai- Macau Bridge

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