Importance of air transport liberalization for globalization and tourism competitiveness
Tourism is arguably one of the world’s largest industries and contributes to job creation, accounting for more than 10 percent of total employment worldwide. Tourists’ spending on food, accommodation, transport, leisure, and shopping not only creates income for the tourist destination, but also promotes employment, even though this may be seasonal.
It should be noted that the success of the tourism industry is closely related to a good air transport network that provides a fast, direct and comfortable connection for tourists. In this respect, airports and air routes are increasingly important for the competitiveness of cities and regions in the global and increasingly international economy. Offering frequent connections to diversified destinations will lead to increased contact between companies in different regions, attract new investments and business areas such as those related to the financial, service or new technology areas.
Air transport has assumed a fundamental role in this context, being considered one of the main causes for the development of many tourist destinations, contributing to the improvement of accessibility, and captivating certain segments of tourism demand, such as health and wellness tourism. In the Macao SAR, air services could be provided according to the wishes and needs of passengers instead of obeying monopolistic rules and dependence on government intervention as has been the case for the last two decades.
We cannot ignore that the main market for passenger transportation is still North America, followed by Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Although currently the European and Asian markets are very close, it is expected that the Asian market will become the second region in terms of air transport, since it has higher growth rates than all other regions.
With regard to competitiveness in attracting tourists, they fall into four crucial areas: the environment in which tourism in Macau is inserted as an attractive factor, the network of air transport infrastructure and the quality of hospitality, price competitiveness and the combination of comparative advantages reflected by the nature, historical and cultural component of the destination.
For example, for a hotel unit it is irrelevant whether the guest traveled for business, leisure or curiosity to know the place, however what varies is to know if it was the most convenient and attractive way to have arrived at the destination. Thus, it is possible to see that the concept of tourist is complex as a result of the difficulty in framing in the same concept realities that are sometimes very distinct, but with inseparable common points and generating similar phenomena, but not always producing equal results.
*Macau Legislative Assembly Deputy/Associação dos Trabalhadores da Função Pública de Macau