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IFTM alumnus invites tourists to ‘taste’ Macao culture one lollipop at a time

IFTM alumnus Mr. James Sun Ka Meng
中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

IFTM alumnus Mr. James Sun Ka Meng has a tasty proposition for visitors to Macao: learning about the city’s intangible culture while enjoying a lollipop candy. The visitors will be able to ‘feel’ the experience in a novel way. The lollipop sticks send tiny vibrations to the jaw of the person enjoying the candy – via bone conduction technology – transferring preprogrammed sounds to their inner ear directly.

“People can listen to Macanese music or to local folk tales while eating a candy,” Mr. Sun says. He adds this product can be used as a souvenir, allowing visitors easily to take home a ‘piece’ of Macao culture, and give it to friends as a gift, promoting the city’s intangible heritage beyond its boundaries.

The high-tech lollipops are part of a wider project called ‘Heart in Macao’. It was launched by Mr. Sun and his company – Best Concepts Planning Ltd – to promote the uniqueness of Macanese culture to visitors. Other initiatives include interactive sessions for tourists either to try on Portuguese traditional costumes or to learn Portuguese folk dances, important components within the East-West mix of Macanese culture.

“We will also set up an online platform to let more people know about Macao’s intangible heritage,” he says, adding that the Macanese community is a treasure trove of traditions and folklore, most of the elements unknown to tourists.

The word “Macanese” refers to Macao’s Eurasian population; those among the city’s people that have ancestral ties to Portugal or to that country’s former colonial outposts, such as Goa and Malacca, and to the Mainland. The Macanese have a distinct social and cultural identity, cuisine, and creole language called Patuá.

The ‘Heart in Macao’ project has already received support from the Cultural Industry Fund of the Macao SAR Government, under a special funding scheme to aid the development of cultural-tourism-related brands. Mr. Sun says he decided to move ahead with the project in 2020, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Macao, on activities from tourism to advertising and conventions, became more obvious. He saw in the city’s unique culture a way to promote post-pandemic economic recovery.

Being proactive: a trademark of IFTM graduates

Looking back at his time as a student at IFTM, Mr. Sun – a 2008 graduate – says the Institute played an important role in his personal development even though he decided to pursue a career outside either tourism or hospitality.

“I did my curricular internship at a travel agency,” he recalls of his time at IFTM. “Once I graduated, the company gave me a job offer. However, being at a young age, I believed I should try new things, so I rejected the offer and decided to work in an advertising company.”

Although he eventually continued working in advertising, later founding Best Concepts Planning Ltd, Mr. Sun says his time at IFTM fostered in him a proactive attitude. He sees that as a trademark of graduates from the Institute.

The entrepreneur states he has met many IFTM graduates throughout his career. He highlights their passion and attention to detail in whatever task they are assigned. “When you do a simple task wholeheartedly, the task itself is no longer simple,” says Mr. Sun.

He adds that IFTM graduates are “more active in meeting new people” than their counterparts from other local universities. They are also “more willing to try new things”.

Mr. Sun recalls taking part in an international conference at IFTM as a student helper. He says helping host the event was very useful as a starting point to build a professional network. Later, in his professional life, he collaborated with some of the people he worked with at the conference.

“If there had been no such platform to meet different people, I would probably just have gone work in a hotel after graduation,” he says. “Thanks to the opportunities available when I studied at IFTM, I took the chance to be a student helper at that conference, and now I can have more possibilities” in professional terms, Mr. Sun adds.

He is also very active in participating in local associations. His interests cover a wide range of topics, from tourism to culture and education. Mr. Sun is President of China and Macao Youth Development and Promotion Association, and Secretary of the Social Department of the Macau Chinese Cultural Friendship Association – Youth Committee.

He says being in various associations helps him meet people from distinct backgrounds, and to have a better grasp of local market conditions. “Joining these associations really has helped me broaden my horizons,” states Mr. Sun.

President’s Corner

A special place

IFTM’s unique positioning means students have access to a deep pool of exclusive opportunities, including exchange and internship programmes outside Macao, allowing them to be exposed to new ideas, and to broaden their horizons. Read More