Macao residents say the city has become more prosperous since it returned to the motherland 15 years ago.
Ng Kit Leng, a 21-year-old student at the University of Macao majoring in global business, introduces the historical sites and culture of Macao to residents and tourists.
“Since Macao returned to the mainland, its economy has been developing rapidly,” Ng said. “The connection between Macao and the Chinese mainland is closer than before. Macao students have more opportunities to come to the mainland for exchanges, and we can even communicate with mainland organizations.”
“Macao is more and more busy, and there are more tourists in the downtown area, especially during the holidays and weekends,” said Ng, a member of the Macao Heritage Ambassadors Association.
The Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute said that the capacity of the Macao tourism market reached 30 million in 2013, four times that of 1999. Also, the number of exhibitions has risen to more than 1,000, four times that of 2001.
According to the Macao Government Tourist Office, mainland visitors made the largest contribution to Macao’s tourism industry from January to October, accounting for 67 percent of tourists, followed by Hong Kong at 20.5 percent.
“Macao should not only focus on the gambling industry and should develop various industries,” Ng said, adding “I love culture and am willing to disseminate the culture and history of Macao to people all over the world, letting more people learn about Macao.”
However, the rapid development of Macao’s economy has also brought some inconveniences. “Prices are on the rise, there are traffic jams and sometimes we can’t take a taxi or bus because of the large number of tourists,” Ng said.
A Legislative Assembly worker surnamed Yip said she never imagined that she could work as a civil servant. About six years ago, she graduated from the Institute For Tourism Studies of Macao after majoring in hotel management.
“The Portuguese and descendants of Portuguese living in Macao used to have more advantages to work in government departments. Since Macao’s return to the motherland, local young people are granted more development opportunities,” Yip explained.
The Macao government also launched a “Young Entrepreneurs Aid Scheme”, offering financial aid to people aged 21 to 44 who want to start their own businesses.
Cheres Fong abandoned a high-salary job at a bank and opened her own consulting company this year under the aid plan.
“You need to consider a lot after starting a business, such as rent, utilities and paying your employees. Although the process of entrepreneurship is very hard, I felt very happy,” said Fong, who was a 16-year-old flag-bearer during the celebrations as Macao returned to the motherland.
Since 1999, Macao has diversified its economy and supported youth development, creating more entrepreneurial opportunities for them.
“Macao youths should not only work at the casinos, they can have various opportunities for development,” Fong said. “With the closer ties between Macao and the mainland, we also expect to go to the mainland to start a business.”