IFT is, for the fourth year running, hosting training workshops for civil servants from tourism-related bodies in Portuguese-speaking countries, as part of an initiative by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO).
The overall training initiative is held in partnership with the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and the Portuguese-Speaking Countries, a body also known as Forum Macao.
Three batches of trainees are expected to come to Macao in 2019, each comprising about 10 officials from tourism organisations in Portuguese-speaking countries. Each MGTO training session lasts 2 weeks, and includes 2 days of workshops at IFT.
Workshops for the first batch of this year’s trainees were held in March. The initial group to arrive in Macao was first offered an IFT workshop on special interest tourism. The workshop included presentations by 2 local associations on festivals organised by them, namely the Feast of Na Tcha and the Feast of the Drunken Dragon.
The second workshop for the initial group focused on tourism planning and development. It featured a field trip to several hotels and tourist attractions in Macao.
The IFT Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training arranged the workshops. They were designed to provide the trainees with tools to improve “planning and management of tourism development in their respective countries,” says the centre’s Director, IFT Visiting Professor Dr. John Ap.
Dr. Ap adds that this was the first time IFT provided a workshop on special interest tourism to participants from Portuguese-speaking countries. It covered topics such as sports tourism, festival tourism and adventure tourism.
“The aim was to look at what we call ‘niche markets’,” he explains. This was in order to let participants discuss how they can “leverage their culture and traditions, and make those things appealing to tourists”.
One person among the initial batch of participants attending the IFT training workshops conducted on behalf of MGTO was Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, a City Council member for Praia municipality in Cabo Verde. He says the workshops at IFT were “very interesting”, allowing participants to understand how Macao applies tourism management practices to the city’s development.
“Special interest tourism in particular is an area in which we can learn a lot from Macao,” Mr. Santos says. He points out that Cabo Verde is often labelled a haven for beach tourism, but Praia does not specifically offer such a tourism product. “Praia must mostly leverage on its cultural diversity to attract tourists,” he stresses.
Praia is to host an integrated resort, developed by Macau Legend Development Ltd, a company headed by Macao businessman Mr. David Chow Kam Fai. The project is currently under construction.
“In Praia, we will have the same challenge as Macao: on one hand, we will have this huge development that will positively revolutionise the city; on the other, we need to develop strategies to ensure tourists don’t only stay inside the resort,” says Mr. Santos. “Macao has that know-how; we need to learn that, so that when tourists go to Cabo Verde to the resort, they are also attracted to go out and experience the city.”
Ms. Shellita Viegas, from São Tomé and Principe’s Tourism Board, another person in the first batch of this year’s trainees, also praises the quality of the IFT workshops. She says the courses “covered different ways to promote tourism planning and discussed particular market niches that São Tomé and Principe has not yet tapped.”
Ms. Viegas adds: “We discussed a lot about community-based tourism… That is a type of tourism we can implement in São Tomé and Principe.”
Mr. Délcio Pedro Rodrigues, an official at the Angolan Ministry of Tourism, also attended the MGTO training initiative. He highlights the “highly specialised” content of the workshops provided by IFT and the quality of the lecturers.
He says the MGTO training initiative can help position Macao as a cooperation platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries. “Angola is one of the main strategic partners of China, and bilateral cooperation is very good,” Mr. Rodrigues explains. He further notes: “For finance, infrastructure and some other fields, we already have a very strong cooperation with Mainland China; but in areas such as tourism, Macao can play an essential role in promoting exchanges.”
The second batch of trainees to take part in the MGTO programme this year will arrive in Macao in May. The third batch will arrive in July.
The IFT Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training was established in 2016 to strengthen the Institute’s position as an international hub for education and training. That involves boosting cooperation between the Institute and the Portuguese-speaking countries. This is in line with the efforts of the Macao Government to promote the city as a cooperation platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries.