Located on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta, where the river flows into the South China Sea, Macao sits with its to 650,000 inhabitants. Macao came under Portugal’s administration in the 16th century when it was an important trading hub. As a result, the city has become a diverse environment, combining eastern and western culture and home of the first ‘fusion food’ – the Macanese cuisine, now designated as Macao's intangible heritage by the local government. In 1999, China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Macao and the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) was established. Macao identifies gastronomy a key lever for nurturing cultural diversity and supporting sustainable economic growth. 6.6% of the workforce in Macao is employed in the gastronomy field, of which 28.6% is represented by young people aged from 25 to 34.
Macao has an important experience in hosting large-scale gastronomy-related events such as the Macao Food Festival; a landmark event gathering local and international chefs and key sector stakeholders from across Asia and Europe. Celebrated for 16 editions, the festival continuously expands in scale, attracting an audience of over 800,000 in 2016. Other major festivals are the Lusofonia Festival, which promotes and exchanges cultural knowledge between Portuguese-speaking countries and regions, and the Myanmar & Southeast Asia Cuisine and Culture Festival.
To maximise the potential of gastronomy in socio-economic development, the local government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy aiming to promote the sustainability of local food culture, create opportunities for exchange with international stakeholders, enhance the working conditions within the sector, and nurture interest in the sector through education and training programmes targeting young people in particular. The SAR Government initiatives such as the Young Entrepreneurs Aid Scheme, as well as the Youth Entrepreneurs Incubation Centre, provide technical support, training, consultation and market intelligence for young creative entrepreneurs.
As a Creative City of Gastronomy, Macao envisages:
- collaborating with diverse associations and institutions to reassert the importance of a sustainable food culture and promote the local gastronomic heritage;
- establishing a vocational education centre, aimed at supporting the emergence of creative talents in the gastronomy sector;
- creating a Macanese gastronomy database in order to set standards for Macanese cuisine, generating wider awareness and contributing towards the sustainability of the culture and culinary identity of Macao;
- holding the second edition of the International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM) to create synergy between film and gastronomy;
- contributing financially to the UCCN and launching international students exchange programmes ;
- continuing to host the International Gastronomy Forum Macao and extending participation to Portuguese-Speaking countries, harnessing long-term cooperation between Creative Cities of Gastronomy; and
- inviting UCCN Cities to participate in the Macao Food Festival so as to promote their cities and gastronomy.