Mr Ray from Vietnam’s Air Macau representative office shared with Wanderlust Tips some interesting information about Macau’s only carrier and a new image for the country they are presenting to the world.
How long have you been working for Air Macau?
I am Taiwanese and have been working for Air Macau for over 20 years. During this time, I worked for many different offices of Air Macau but mostly places in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhuhai. I have mostly been in charge of sales departments.
And because outbound tourism from Vietnam increased 10 per cent last year, Air Macau’s leaders came up with the idea of launching a representative office in Vietnam. In the same year, I was sent to Vietnam to do market research multiple times. And that’s why I am here: to set up things for the Vietnam office. In the past six months, we have undertaken all the office set-up work including the office license application, legal procedures, and developed the local sales teams.
Why has Air Macau decided to open a representative office in Vietnam after four years flying here?
After a long time flying to Vietnam, we recognised Vietnam’s market potential. Air Macau is very small, but we are intending to expand our flight network in Vietnam including Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City. We would also like to increase our flights to Hanoi from one to two or three daily flights. Danang is also very popular with Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese tourists. And we are aiming to go to Ho Chi Minh City – a modern city with a large market and many beautiful places close by especially islands. Vietnam has so many attractive destinations stretching from North through the Centre to the South.
Vietnam is witnessing fast-growing outbound tourism as I mentioned before. Besides, there are around 15,000 Vietnamese people living and working in Macau. And the number increases 8 per cent per year. If each person comes home once per year, that means more than 40 people fly a day. All of this ensures our chances to expand as we are aiming to cater to both labourers and transfer passengers. Because of that, we prefer to fly to existing popular destinations rather than add new ones to our flight network.
Vietnam is developing very fast now. When I fly, it is not hard to recognise many Vietnamese people in the business lounge or business class on board. Vietnamese people now are willing and able to pay for good or even classy services.
What are the challenges Air Macau has in developing the Vietnamese market?
Firstly, visas are one of the biggest issues now. We hope in the future, the visa scheme will be loosened for Vietnamese people who want to travel to Macau. At the moment the visa to Macau takes time and Vietnamese people have to prove financial capability and many other conditions to apply for a visa to Macau. But the change may take some time as it involves legal policies.
Secondly, I see that in Southeast Asia, people don’t know much about Macau; they know more about Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. But once they get there people will realise that Macau is worth a visit. It can be called the little “Europe” of Asia without exaggeration. You will not see chaos or crowds like in many other emerging parts of Asia. Everything here is tidy and well arranged. We hope to bring the new and fresh image of Macau to people in Vietnam.
What does Air Macau have to offer to its visitors?
Macau is the added value we give our passengers. We don’t sell plane tickets only. Macau is of course a place of gambling. The income from casinos in Macau exceeds even Las Vegas, but Macau’s authorities are trying to change its image worldwide, because there are so many other things to enjoy here besides casinos.
Macau is a family destination, it is a place of heritage, shopping centres selling everything from high-end to middle-class brands, big hotels with great views and family space, and many leisure activities to enjoy with your loved ones. For those who love historical and cultural heritage, please note that Macau has both. Comprising over 20 ancient monuments and urban squares interwoven with the heart of the city, the historic district is collectively known as “The Historic Centre of Macau” and has been on the World Heritage List since 2005.
With an Air Macau boarding pass you receive many preferential rates for accommodation in Macau. As the only carrier in Macau, we get the great support from all the authorities and partners in Macau.
Personally, what has been your difficulty when moving to work in Vietnam?
Actually, moving to Vietnam for work is a challenge for me because most of the time I have been working in China – the same language, the same culture. Now I am trying to adapt to a new living and working environment.
Lucky for me, living in Hanoi is quite easy. When my wife, my mother or my brother’s family came here, I took them to lunch or dinner with plenty of choice, which surprised them. I asked: “What would you like? Vietnamese food, Korean food, Japanese food, Chinese food or Italian food?” Even though I am super busy right at the moment, it is not hard to find many kinds of food just several steps from my office. Sometimes I have fried spring roll, or pho bo, sometimes I eat Hue food nearby, or Southern Vietnamese food such as banh xeo.
The most difficult thing for me is the language. I have been working in a Chinese-speaking environment for quite a long time. You can see many Vietnamese language self-studying books on my bookshelf (laughs) as I am trying to learn basic words for daily communication. It is also the way to learn the culture because I will stay here for at least three years in my position, but I expect it will be much longer maybe 5 to 7 years. Another thing is traffic, but luckily I don’t have to move around too much as I work and live in the same building.
What are the new destinations Air Macau is targeting?
Beside Ho Chi Minh City, we are also planning to open new routes to Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Singapore. As I said before, we would like to come into already-developed markets where the volume of passengers is stable at high levels, and not develop new ones.
In the future, we will try to develop more long-haul flights and hope that Macau will not be just a transit place for a couple of hours but a transfer destination where people wish to stay longer.
Thank you for sharing with us many interesting points. I wish you and Air Macau great success in the future.