HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Macau is banking on the Goddess of Mercy

Tiger Airways collaborates with Singapore Cable Car

Budget airlines announce simultaneous fuel surcharge

Macau is banking on the Goddess of Mercy

Monte Carlo of the Orient or the Las Vegas of the East?

Reinhard Hohler
Photos: Marion Vogt

More than 230 paparazzi from Macau, Hong Kong, Mainland China and other parts of the world were attracted to cover the 54th PATA Annual Conference held from April 17-21 in the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center.

One of the very popular landmarks of Macau is the graceful bronze statue of Kun Iam (Goddess of Mercy) which dominates the outer harbor. Its base is an educational center on Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Ever since the establishment of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in 1951, it has been active in the enhancement of growth, value, and quality of travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region.

To this end, for the first time, Macau was chosen to be the host of this year’s conference.

The Macau Special Administrative Region Government has laid down clear policies to develop the gaming and tourism industries and to make Macau an international destination for meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE). As new infrastructure and facilities are constantly being added and quality of service upgraded, Macau has entered a new stage of development.

In the Kun Iam Temple you can find all kinds of sacred images where worshippers make all kind of merits including burning paper offerings of replica of cars, and other luxury items to comfort the spirit of the dead.

Macau, long a Portuguese colony, is now Chinese territory and is located on the Southeast Coast of China within the huge Pearl River Delta. Bordering on China’s Guangdong Province, Macau is 60km from Hong Kong and 145km from the city of Guangzhou, forming a triangle of prosperity. Land reclamation along its coastline has made Macau grow from 10 to more than 27 square km. Macau consists of the Macau peninsula and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. Two modern bridges link the peninsula to Taipa, while the 2.2km Taipa-Coloane Causeway connects the two islands.

Macau has succeeded to balance and preserve their cultural heritage and still be a casino town so far. The Casino Lisboa is the oldest casino in town, but probably the only one where still a little bit old flair is visible compared to the new cold modern gambling palaces which are opening up everywhere.

The government of the People’s Republic of China resumed exercising sovereignty over Macau on December 20, 1999. In harmony with the principle of “one country, two systems”, the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.

With the population of more than 465,000, Macau had 16 million visitors in 2004. Since tourism is the backbone of Macau’s economy, the government clearly regards the gaming and tourism industries as the head and the service industry as the body, with other industries developing in parallel. The gaming sector by itself is the largest source of direct tax in Macau. Macau has been dubbed the Monte Carlo of the Orient—but will be the Las Vegas of the East when all the projected 21 casinos are built.

After the end of PATA Annual Conference 2005 on April 21, members of the press had the opportunity to take part in a tour to visit Macau’s famous historical landmarks and architectural heritage treasures. They give a fascinating glimpse into the islands rich colonial past.

Fisherman from Fujian and farmers from Guangdong formed the first known settlement which soon became a trading port, part of the Maritime Silk Road with sailing ships loaded with silk plying the sea routes between China and Rome. In 1513, Portuguese merchant-explorers reached the place called “A Ma Gao”, where the locals honored the Goddess of Seafarers A Ma, whose temple stood at the entrance to the sheltered port. The Portuguese adopted this name gradually becoming “Macau” and established the major trading port between China, Japan, India and Europe.

The Roman Catholic Church sent some of its greatest missionaries in the wake of St. Francis Xavier, who died nearby after having made many converts in Asia. Located at the southern end of the Macau peninsula is Penha Hill, on which stands the imposing Bishop’s Palace with a chapel of Our Lady of Penha built in the year 1622. In the heart of the city stands the carved stone fa็ade of St. Paul’s Church, which served as a college for the Jesuits in the East. Nearby is the fortress hill of Monte Fort, which provided an effective defense against attack by the Dutch in 1624. Today it houses the Museum of Macau, where special attention is given to the merging of cultures to create the distinctive Macanese society—a unique blending of the East and West.

Macau’s main artery is paved with wave-patterned stone mosaics and extends from St. Paul’s to Senado Square, which is the shopping and dining area of Macau. Macanese food, which is a fusion of Portuguese, African, Southeast Asian and Chinese cooking, has just begun to gain international recognition. Situated on the highest point of the city, Guia Fort with its original cannon platform provides panoramic views of Macau and the islands. Rising above the old battlements is the oldest western-style lighthouse on the China Coast that is still a beacon for shipping.

Much newer is the towering and graceful bronze statue of Kun Iam, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, which has become one of the most popular landmarks of Macau. It stands on a podium under which is an ecumenical center of Chinese religion. Along the shore passes the Avenue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, with trees, plants and a boulevard for people to stop and enjoy the view. After sunset, the whole area comes to boisterous life along the waterfront. May Kun Iam is thought to be merciful to all the gamblers who frequent the bars, restaurants and casinos—some of which open for 24 hours.

The article was written by courtesy of Air Asia, the low cost airline that flies two times a day from Bangkok to Macau International Airport on the Island of Taipa, Macau.

Tiger Airways collaborates with Singapore Cable Car

Cheryl Ong

Singapore Cable Car, the local source of entertainment, thrill and excitement has again positioned itself at the forefront of the leisure industry with its latest collaboration with Tiger Airways in value added bonuses and discount packages for travellers into Singapore.

Tony Davis, CEO of Tiger Airways, said: “We are very pleased to announce this exciting collaboration with such a high profile and strongly iconic attraction like the Singapore Cable Car. With the numbers of our inbound passengers expanding monthly, I am confident that Tiger Airways will play a significant role in channelling tourists to the Singapore Cable Car and other major Singapore tourist attractions.”

The special priced return trip cable car ride only cost S$5.50 (Adult) and S$3.00 (Child) in a normal cabin, compared to the usual price of S$9.90 (Adult) and S$4.90 (Child). To spice up your cable car adventure, you could even choose a glass cabin, at S$12.00 (Adult) and S$6.00 (Child).

More promotions are valid to all Tiger Airways passengers travelling into Singapore from May 1, 2005 to December 31, 2005. Present your boarding passes for the exclusive privileges.

Budget airlines announce simultaneous fuel surcharge

Tom Van Blarcom

Patee Sarasin (2nd left), CEO of Nok Air; Tassapon Bijleveld (middle), CEO of Thai AirAsia; and Udom Tantiprasongchai (3rd right), CEO of One-Two-Go, and crew announce the new fuel surcharges.

Thailand’s three budget carriers, Nok Air, One-Two-Go, and Thai AirAsia recently held a press conference to announce fuel surcharges which they said concurrently reflect the increasing cost of aviation fuel.

The carriers’ fuel surcharge, effective May 1, for domestic flights is THB 200 (excluding VAT) per ticket, and THB 400 for international flights (this may vary depending on the destinations’ regulations).