Macao´s Tourism Crisis Management Office: An Example of Tourism Best Practice

On the occasion of his visit to Macao early last month for the Global Tourism Economy Forum, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai visited the Tourism Crisis Management Office in Macao to meet with Mr.  Joao Antunes, Director of Macao Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and other officials to discuss the importance of adaptation and mitigation to crises facing the tourism sector.

Macao´s Tourism Crisis Management Office (GGCT) is a best practice example of crisis preparedness for the tourism industry. Established as a strategic coordination committee on June 24, 2007, the office´s scope of work has grown from coordinating operational measures for Macao residents who were affected by crises or disasters during outbound travel to now also include managing the response to tourism crises which occur within the territory of Macao itself.

Aiding both Macao residents abroad and visitors to Macao, GGCT´s main considerations in activating a disaster or crisis response are the safety of those involved, coordination in the aftermath of the event, the impact on Macao´s city brand as a tourist destination and the impact on the local tourism industry.

One of the office´s most successful operations was the response to the political instability of Thailand in 2008. Due to the closure of Suvamabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, contingency procedures were activated on November 27 to contact the travel trade for information of stranded Macau residents and tour groups. At the same time, the Office contacted Air Macau for charter flight arrangements. The flight chartered by the Macau SAR Government brought home 173 Macau residents and tour participants on November 29. In the ensuing days, 5 other stranded Macau residents were given assistance with arrangements to fly home.

The work of GGCT aligns strongly with the work of UNWTO´s Risk and Crisis Management Programme, which continues to focus its activities in assisting countries to integrate tourism in their national emergency plans to better improve the handling of emergencies for the travel and tourism sector.  UNWTO is currently preparing a major set of guidelines on the integration of tourism into national emergency structures and processes for government institutions, national tourism bodies, and the private sector.

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