Feast and fantasy: Macao imaginaries on the official tourism website
Marisa C. Gaspar (Universidade de Lisboa (ISEG) )
Paper short abstract:
Macao is mostly attractive due to its gambling market. However, the city government is seeking alternative directions and creating new tourism imaginaries, such as a culinary heritage. To understand how this is been done, it is crucial to acknowledge how the city is represented and perceived online.
Paper long abstract:
On November 2017, the Macao Special Administrative Region, China, had joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in the field of gastronomy. The application led by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR, along with the Macao Tourism Office, with the support of China central government, was assumed as an additional powerful international branding to the city's portfolio that already includes its Historic Centre in the list of World Heritage. Preparation works and submission process, and the effective admission of Macao into the UCCN had an intensive coverage by the social media and were displayed in a variety of web information sources. Macao's government has since been the major promoter of local unique culture and heritage, and of Macanese cuisine as one of the region's main touristic attractions. As a product of this strategy, Macao tourism official website (MTOW) has also become one of the most significant means on the internet of advertising Macao as an international city with abundant cultural resources and modern facilities that has to offer much beyond just gaming. This paper focuses, using content analysis, on the role of the MTOW in the construction of culinary tourism imaginaries, with regard to: How is it directly influencing the perceived gastronomic image of the Macao SAR and creating a virtual experience for culinary tourists? In which ways it is using Macao's title of a creative city of gastronomy as a distinct element of its hybrid heritage to diversify tourism's origin and promote cultural consumption?