Had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong and Macau last week.
I was particularly keen to visit Macau which her historic centre was listed as a World Heritage City by Unesco in 2005.
It was a fruitful and as it is late spring, the weather was cool and not too hot to walk about. The trip was both eye opening and an experience as it was from Melaka that the Portuguese ventured out and up to China and established a trading base in Macau. Saint Francis Xavier also travelled from Melaka to Macau to spread Christianity in the 16th. Century.
Being from Melaka, my home city, Macau and Melaka share some similarities both in history, cultures and cuisines over the past 600 years. In tourism, Melaka and Macau are listed by Unesco as World Heritage cities. Macau historic Centre in 2005 while Melaka together with Georgetown,Penang in July 2007.
If we compare Melaka and Macau, there are some interesting similarities. Both cities have a compact historical zones. Melaka has her Red Square (Stadthuys) by the Dutch, while in Macau, it is the Senando Square.
Then, Macau has the ruins of St.Paul which was unfortunately burnt down in late 19th. Century. This is the most famous landmark of Macau where millions of tourists visit Macau each year both for her history, casinos, food and shopping. Beside the ruins of St.Paul, is the Fortress on the hill overlooking Macau. The canons on this fortress were only fired once when the Dutch wanted to conquer Macau, which they failed. Macau remained under Portuguese rule until December 31st. 1999 before it was handed over to China.
Melaka on the other hand, has a world renowned Stadthuys built by the Dutch. St. Paul's Hill is located behind Stadthuys and we have the ruins of 'A Famosa'. As Melaka has no casinos, we are blessed with our Melaka River that runs through the city.
Food are great attractions for Macau and Melaka. Portuguese cuisines in Macau are mouth watering and they even have pork chop buns. A surprise is that shops are selling grilled meat slices which Melaka/Malaysia have for many years. I was told that these food products were not done in Macau/Hong Kong years back!!! Maybe, they see a new product which the Macanese adapted to sell Macau to visitors.
One distinct difference between Melaka and Macau are visitors to these two places. In 2000, before Macau was handed over to China, tourists arrival totalled only 7.1 million. Now, after 10 years, the tourists arrival has reached 22 million - much to the arrivals and visits by mainland Chinese.
Melaka on the hand receives about 8.9 million visitors in 2009 only. Melaka need to do more to attract visitors to her shores. With just 3hours flight from Melaka to Hong Kong/Macau, we can tap the Chinese market as Melaka are well known to them via Zheng He. We need to market Melaka as part of a package.