Q4 2012 report of the Macao Visitor Profile Survey (VPS) released

IFT Tourism Research Centre (ITRC) is releasing today the latest results of the Macao Visitor Profile Survey (VPS) covering the fourth quarter of 2012.  ITRC has been collecting quarterly data on visitor profile and characteristics since 2008 and analyzing visitor trends. Highlights and analysis of trends from the latest quarter are as follows:

Proportion of visitors coming primarily for gambling continues to drop

Figure 1 - Proportion % of visitors saying their primary visiting purpose is gambling

The proportion of visitors indicating gambling as the primary purpose for their visit to Macao declined from 7.2% in Q3 2012 to a low of 6.2% in the last quarter of 2012, the lowest percentage thus far recorded. See Figure 1. Visitors arriving primarily for pleasure or vacation purposes comprised 76.5% of those interviewed in Q4 2012. Shopping, cuisine and attractions remain strong pulls for visiting Macao. ITRC tracks this data as one of many indicators to determine whether Macao’s tourism is diversifying – one of the key strategies of the territory’s long-term tourism development.


Other observations: Shopping and dining are the most popular non-gaming activities, especially of those coming from Mainland China and Hong Kong. However, data suggests that visiting World Heritage attractions (9.5%), attending festivals, non-business events, shows or concerts (4.2%) and visiting for business purposes (3.8%) do not show a clear trend and fluctuate over time.

Shopping activities = Shorter length of stay?

Figure 2 -  Profile of visitors with varying length of stay (%), Q4 2012

Analysis of VPS data from Q4 2012 shows that the highest proportion of same day (or short-staying) visitors is associated with cross-border shopping activities. See Figure 2. This segment (same day length and shopping) comprises 19.1% of visitors.. A slight increase in proportion of visitors coming for attractions and stay overnight was observed (16.0%); while only 3% of surveyed respondents visiting for pleasure stayed overnight.


As in previous quarters, there is no evidence of positive association between first time visitors and longer length of stay, nor between tour packages and longer length of stay. However, the data with respect to visitors from Taiwan China remains positive. This segment has a higher likelihood than others to stay overnight in Macao (6.4%). The same pattern is evident amongst tourists from other Asian countries, although numbers from these areas remain low relative to the main source markets of Mainland China and Hong Kong.  


The overall trend throughout the latest quarter shows that Macao continues to grow as a short-stop shopping destination for the Greater China areas. To develop Macao into an international tourism destination, further diversification in attractions and pleasure offerings is necessary to entice visitors from the long haul markets, therefore lengthen the overall duration of stay.

About the VPS

Every quarter since 2008  ITRC has been collecting relevant information with which it conducts analysis leading to identifying segments and niche profiles of visitors. We use these analyses to inform policy-making and the long term effectiveness of destination planning and marketing, for both public and private sector stakeholders.



Data for the Macao Visitor Profile Survey comes from field surveys of visitors. Survey was conducted over nine days for each quarter and targeted to collect at least 114 samples that completed at least half of their planned visit period or activity at the time of interview on each survey date. Interview locations included major sites and terminals including the Border Gate, Ruins of St. Paul’s, Rua do Cunha at Taipa, Senado Square, Hong Kong-Macao Ferry Terminal and Macao International Airport. Each quarter sees around a final sample comprised of 1,026 visitors. The questionnaires used for collecting data for the VPS seeks information from visitors primarily on (1) their purpose and reasons for visiting Macao, (2) their trip and travel characteristics, (3) travel and transportation arrangements, (4) accommodation arrangements, (5) major information source, (6) spending behavior, (7) visitor attractions visited, (8) gaming behavior, and (9) evaluation of their overall travel experience.

For more information 

Please contact Ms. Virginia Hong or Ms. Wendy Tang of ITRC at itrc@ift.edu.mo.