ITRC announces latest updates of its Visitor Profile Study (VPS)

IFT Tourism Research Centre (ITRC) is releasing today the most updated results of its Macao Visitor Profile Survey (VPS) covering the first and second quarters of 2013. ITRC has been collecting quarterly data on visitor profile and characteristics and analyzing visitor trends to Macao since 2008.


ITRC periodically monitors two particular trends considered to be important indicators of the long-term success of Macao’s tourism development. These are: (1) visitors’ primary purpose for visiting and (2) identifying determinants to lengthening the stay of visitors. Both indicators help gauge efforts toward diversifying Macao’s attractions and attracting longer staying visitors. In this dispatch, we report the latest analysis and figures for the two indicators.

Table 1
Primary purpose for visiting Macao, % of surveyed visitors, second quarter 2010-2013


Figure 1
Primary purpose for visiting Macao, % of surveyed visitors, quarterly data Q1 2010 to Q2 2013

Table 2
Profile of visitors staying two days or more compared to same day, second quarter 2010-2013

Figure 2
Profile of visitors staying two days or more vs. same day. quarterly from Q1 2010 to Q2 2013

A.  Macao becoming a popular shopping destination

  1. Although gambling remains one of the main reasons for visiting Macao, other attractions now pull visitors strongly to visit the territory. Shopping and dining have become, over time, the most popular non-gaming activities, especially of those coming from Mainland China and Hong Kong.
  2. About 26.8% of visitors surveyed in Q2 of 2013 said that they were drawn to visit Macao primarily for shopping but a significant proportion were also drawn to the culinary attractions and the World Heritage site.
  3. Table 1 below shows the trend for the second quarter over the last four years while Figure 1 shows the trend across all quarters since 2010. Although the historic Centre of Macao continues to be a top draw for visitors (mentioned by 16.6% of those surveyed in Q2 as their primary reason for visiting), most of Macao’s arts, cultural and other historical attractions seem to be declining in its appeal to visitors over time, as are the territory’s events, festivals and shows. Both attractions show declining trends.
  4. Interestingly, visiting friends and relatives has been among the main and consistent reason for drawing visitors. Finally, efforts to make Macao an international business tourism destination need to be reinforced as latest data shows that very few (2.7%) come to the territory for business purposes.


B.  Visitors who stay for more than just one day: (1) travel on package tours, (2) come mostly from Taiwan or other Asian countries, and (3) are drawn primarily to visit Macao’s World Heritage sites, to take part in festivals and events, to visit friends or relatives, or visit (or stay in) the new casino-resort complexes.


ITRC monitors the profiles of same-day visitors compared to those who stay two days or more. Our analysis of quarterly data over the last four years shows long-term significant differences between short- and long-staying visitors (i.e., those who stay two or more days). Table 2 below shows the profile of each group every second quarter over the last four years, broken down into various traveler or trip characteristic, while Figure 2 shows the same information in graphic format over the same four-year period but including all quarter periods.


The major trends from the data are as follows:

  1. Over the long term, first time visitors are more likely to stay two days or more compared to repeat visitors.
  2. Those traveling to Macao on package tour groups are more likely to stay two days or more compared to independent travelers (or FITs), which tend to stay just for a day’s visit.
  3. Visitors coming to Macao primarily to stay at any of the internationally branded casino-resort complexes or to visit friends and family are more likely to stay longer during their visits. In contrast, those who come primarily to shop are likely to leave on the same day. Interestingly, our analysis shows that attractions such as gambling at the casinos or visiting Macao’s World Heritage sites do not make any significant difference in making visitors stay longer.
  4. Finally, in terms of their place of residence, visitors coming from other Asian countries or Taiwan, China, are more likely to stay two days or more when they visit. In contrast, visitors from Mainland China are likely to stay only for the day. Visitors from Hong Kong and other countries, including those from the West, are equally likely to stay only for the day or longer, and these source markets show no clear trend in their length-of-stay behavior.


The overall trend shows that Macao continues to develop as a short stop shopping destination for the Greater China areas. To enhance Macao’s potential as an international tourism destination, further diversification in attractions and leisure offerings is necessary to entice visitors from a broader portfolio of source markets, preferably from those that will lengthen the overall duration of visitor stay.


About the VPS

ITRC monitors the profile of visitors to Macao for the purpose of informing industry and policy makers regarding the trends and long-term changes brought about by tourism development and to assess the effectiveness of marketing and promotion of Macao tourism.


For more information of queries, please contact Ms. Virginia Hong or Ms. Wendy Tang (


For PDF version of release, please click here.