Tourism Development Opportunities in Macau’s Lesser-visited Historic Scenic Spots
By Xing Fang
IFTM comments is a partnership between the Macau News Agency and the Macau Institute of Tourism Studies
Incoming visitors to Macau are often drawn to popular destinations such as the Ruins of Saint Paul, A-Ma Temple, or large resorts. These are undoubtedly must-sees, but some less-visited scenic spots in the city also deserve attention and promotion as they showcase Macau’s importance in modern Chinese history and can attract more tourists if their uniqueness can be effectively highlighted.
The Kun Iam temple, located near the Mong-Há Hill in the Macau Peninsula, home to the place where the first treaty between the United States and China was signed in the late Qing dynasty[i]. Aligning with the Treaty of Nanjing that Britain signed with China after the First Opium War, the Treaty of Mong-Há was concluded in 1844 by Caleb Cushing (the first American envoy to China) and Ki Ying (the Viceroy of Canton) in the Serenity Garden at the rear of the Temple. The current on-site introduction to this important historical event seems somewhat limited. A museum could be created so that visitors know the details of this first East-West encounter.
In the historic center of Macau, there is a small chapel named after Robert Morrison (1782-1834), a pioneering British missionary to China. In 1839, the Morrison Education Society School was established in Macau to commemorate him. This school is often considered the first modern school in China and nurtured a critical historical figure, Yung Wing, who was educated early in Macau and later became the first Chinese to graduate from a North American university.
In the early 1870s he persuaded the Qing government to send the first contingents of young Chinese students (120 in total) to receive formal education in the United States, and these students later made outstanding contributions to the modernization of the China.[ii]. The specifics of Macau’s early influence on Yung Wing and the traces of the Morrison school are little known to tourists today. Recently, the Zhenxian School, founded by Yung Wing for his home village of Nanping, Zhuhai in 1871, has been renovated into a pleasant museum, showcasing the 120 Chinese students. The museum sheds light on Yung Wing’s education in Macau, which could be expanded through work on the Macau side.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China, is also closely linked to Macao. After graduating from Hong Kong College of Medicine (now part of the University of Hong Kong), he worked at Kiang Wu Hospital in Macao. In the early 1890s, he obtained a loan from the hospital to establish the Chong Sai Pharmacy, which is believed to be the shop located at No. 80, Rua das Estalagens, Macao. It was one of the first pharmacies offering Western medical services in Chinese history[iii]. This shop has been restored to a fine museum with a general display in commemoration of Dr Sun and shelves of books about him for public reading. Through these resources, visitors can gain insight into Dr. Sun’s early career in Macau and how the local community supported his career.
Heritage tourism provides an entertaining travel experience for people to understand the world’s past and present; thus, it has been an essential part of formal education in contemporary China. As a critical region of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) in China, which has close ties with its neighboring cities, Macau could make more use of its abundant historical resources to support education in the GBA, and these attractions Lesser-known but historically significant places in Macau could potentially become as popular as tourist destinations like the Opium War Museum in Dongguan or the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum in Zhongshan. Locally, they can also support the efforts of the SAR government on the education of Macau’s youth[iv].
[i]Macau Government Tourism Office. (2022).觀音堂[Kun Iam Tong]. https://www.macaotourism.gov.mo/zh-hant/sightseeing/temples/kun-iam-tong
[ii]Yale University. (2004, December 20). Tribute to Yale’s first Chinese student. https://news.yale.edu/2004/12/20/honoring-yales-first-chinese-student
[iv]Macau SAR Government Education and Youth Development Office. (2020, December 16).青少年愛國愛澳教育基地揭幕[The Opening Ceremony of the “Love the Country, Love Macau” Education Base for Youth].https://www.gov.mo/zh-hans/news/319617/