Tourism crucial in boosting Cebu-Macao relations

TOURISM is a key driver to the economic relationship between Cebu and Macao, a city-state south of China.

Chinese Consul General Jia Lia said the Chinese-ruled city has continued to see tremendous economic rise in recent years.

Macao, a former Portuguese colony that is now considered as gambling hub in Asia, has become one of the key sources of Chinese tourists to Cebu since a direct link was established.

“The gross domestic product (GDP) of Macao has increased from US$5.86 billion in 1999 to $54.5 billion in 2018,” Jia told the Cebuano-Chinese community at a reception for the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China at the Mandarin Plaza Hotel in Cebu City.

The Chinese special administrative region’s GDP per capita has increased from $14,000 to $82,600, which ranked second in the world.

Today, the enclave of 670,000 people ranks as the world’s second-richest territory by per capita economic output, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

Currently, two local carriers—Cebu Pacific and Air Asia—serve direct routes between Cebu and Macao.

The direct links have paved the way for opportunities for the two Asian cities to boost tourism and business.

As a free port, Macao serves as a gateway to China’s Pearl River Delta metropolitan region.

Direct routes from Cebu

The Cebu-Macao direct routes provide a logistics support to further stimulate the two-way trade and investments of the two economic hubs.

With the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Macao is a perfect access point for business and leisure travelers alike coming from Cebu.

Jia noted that Macao has ushered in development opportunities since it was handed back to China under the “one country, two systems” policy in December 1999 from being a Portugese colony for many years. That gave the gambling city a high degree of autonomy.

“Major infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Guangdong-Macao New Corridor and the Macao Airport Reclamation Project have been completed and put into use, setting up a more robust and reliable platform for Macao’s development,” the consul said.

Macao is one of the four major cities in the Greater Bay Area, and is tied with Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen as the core engine of regional development, he said.

In recent months, Cebu has been heavily connected to major mainland Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Xiamen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Chongqing and Kunming.

In 2018 alone, the number of Chinese tourists who visited the Central Visayas region stood at 630,000, an increase of 45 percent from 2017.

As of September 2019, there are currently 36 flights a week between Mactan-Cebu International Airport and several cities in China. (CSL)