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Macau Expands Competence and Scope of Tourism Crisis Management Agency

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In a bid to provide timely and effective assistance to both Macau residents travelling outside the territory and inbound visitors to Macau in cases of emergency or distress, the Macau government has expanded the competence and scope of its tourism crisis management agency.

The Outbound Tourism Crisis Management Office was renamed the Tourism Crisis Management Office in February with an enlarged remit and structure. The new agency is charged with the major duty to implement immediate and effective measures to help Macau residents travelling outside the territory and inbound visitors to Macau who are involved in serious accidents or disasters.

Headed by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, the Tourism Crisis Management Office consists of one coordinator and 28 members from 25 government departments, public agencies and organisations.

 The office is divided into seven expert groups respectively responsible for: official liaison; travel industry liaison; emergency support, operation and logistics; family liaison; media communication; administration; and the secretariat.

The office provides a 24-hour hotline catering to Cantonese, Putonghua, Portuguese, English and Japanese speakers. Any Macau resident travelling outside the territory or inbound visitor to Macau may call (853) 2833 3000 for enquiry or help.

In case of an emergency, the coordinator may also open a special hotline depending on the actual circumstances to deal with enquiries from residents or the affected parties.

The responsibilities of the office include:

- To minimise the impact of travel emergencies on the tourism industry, outbound residents and inbound visitors;

- To take charge of a crisis and offer necessary assistance to affected outbound residents and inbound visitors;

- To ensure collaboration and information exchange with regional and international official organisations as well as Macauís tourism representatives abroad;

- To deal with other emergency cases that are assigned to it or that demands immediate action; and

- To manage the information flow to the media and the public regarding the handling of an emergency in order to safeguard the image of the Macau SAR Government and Macauís brand as a tourist destination.

If a Macau resident encounters a serious accident or disaster during his travel outside the territory, the office will take immediate measures to offer assistance and cope with the situation. It will also arrange the return of the affected person to Macau.

As for inbound visitors who are in distress, the office will also offer assistance and coordinate in sending the affected visitor back home.

Upon activating the crisis management mechanism, the office will take into account the following:

- The safety of outbound residents;
- The post-crisis coordination relating to inbound visitors;
- The impact of the crisis on Macauís brand as a tourist destination; and
- The impact of the crisis on the local tourism industry.

The officeís crisis management mechanism was activated last year when Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok was closed for consecutive days by yellow-shirted protestors, stranding hundreds of thousands of innocent travellers.

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