Macao as a City of Gastronomy

The role of cuisine in a tourism product bundle

Authored by: Kim-Ieng Loi , Weng-Hang Kong , Hugo Robarts Bandeira

Routledge Handbook of Tourism Cities

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367199999
eBook ISBN: 9780429244605
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429244605-39

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Abstract

Macao was a small and relatively unknown destination to the world until around two decades ago when it was handed over to China in 1999, putting an end to the over 400-year Portuguese regime. In the past, people often thought of Macao as “a city next to Hong Kong” or “the gambling city”. When it was returned to China as one of the two Special Administrative Regions (SAR), the other one being Hong Kong, which was handed over two years earlier, this identity of Macao “via Hong Kong” was even more salient. After 20 years of rapid development, especially after the liberalisation of the gaming industry in 2002, Macao has started to gain recognition in its own right. Several major events that brought Macao under the international spot light include its historic city centre being inscribed on the World Heritage Site list in 2005 (Cultural Affairs Bureau, 2019); its gaming revenue exceeding that of Las Vegas for the first time in 2006 (Holmes, 2010); formally announcing Macao as the World Centre of Tourism and Leisure in the 12th National Five-Year Plan of 2011 (Meneses, 2018); and being officially designated as a Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2017 ( Macau Daily Times, 2019). All these share one common characteristic, that they are about important components of the tourism industry in its broad sense. The unilateral reliance of Macao’s economy on gaming revenue has called for the need of a more diversified tourism portfolio and gastronomy has been one of the foci, especially after the recent designation as City of Gastronomy. Gastronomy can be undoubtedly considered as an indispensable part of the tourism experience and thus makes it an ideal product for tourist consumption. The old adage goes: “We are what we eat”, and so are the tourists visiting a destination. The uniqueness of gastronomy in Macao is heavily embedded in its Macanese cuisine which carries a long history in Macao, dating back to when the Portuguese first arrived in Macao more than 400 years ago, bringing with them food ingredients, spices and cooking ideas from their earlier settlements in Africa, South America, India and of course from home (Portugal). These were adapted and combined with the local Chinese way of cooking to create a truly international cuisine, which led to the creation of the first so-called “fusion food” in the world.

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