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Sands China and Macao Polytechnic University Sign MOU and Host Smart Tourism Symposium

Collaboration aims to accelerate development of smart tourism in Macao

(Macao, Nov 24, 2023) – Sands China and Macao Polytechnic University (MPU) joined forces Friday to accelerate the development of smart tourism in Macao by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and co-hosting a smart tourism symposium at The Londoner® Macao.

The MOU, signed by representatives from Sands China and MPU, aims to strengthen research on smart tourism, technological innovation, and talent development by deepening exchanges between the academic and business sectors.

Per the MOU, Sands China will send senior management personnel to serve as guest lecturers or speakers at MPU, with the goal of promoting the development of smart tourism in Macao in line with international standards. The collaboration seeks to enhance research and exploration in the areas of smart tourism, education and training, study tours, technological innovation, and talent development.

Dr. Wilfred Wong, president of Sands China Ltd., said: "Creating high-quality travel experiences and innovative smart services is poised to become the primary focus of the future tourism industry. To achieve this, Sands China is thrilled to sign a memorandum of understanding with Macao Polytechnic University, forging collaborations across various aspects, including smart tourism. Through a model of industry-academia research cooperation, both entities will leverage our respective resource advantages to drive the development of local higher education. With today's symposium and other initiatives, we aim to foster the exchange of ideas and promote cooperation between the tourism industry and academia, thereby facilitating the transformation of technological advancements and elevating industry service standards. Above all, these efforts are dedicated to supporting the Macao SAR government in its vision to establish a world centre of tourism and leisure, as well as to nurture a tourism education and training base for the Greater Bay Area."

Professor Im Sio Kei, Rector of MPU, said: "The Macao SAR government published the ‘Development Plan for Appropriate Economic Diversification of the Macao Special Administrative Region (2024-2028)' this month, in which it explicitly encourages making integrated tourism and leisure enterprises more refined to continuously enrich the development goals of Macao as a world centre of tourism and leisure. Today, MPU and Sands China signed our MOU and we hope this collaboration of education and enterprise allows us to leverage our respective advantages in teaching, research and practice in the areas of technology and tourism and leisure industries, contributing to Macao's profile as a world centre of tourism and leisure and to Macao's high-tech development."

Participants in the Smart Tourism Symposium discussed the development of Macao as a smart tourism city and how to nurture smart tourism technology professionals. Symposium sessions revolved around topics such as the evolving landscape of smart tourism, its current status quo, utilisation, and the opportunities and challenges it brings about. One aim of the symposium was to utilise Macao's resources and advantages in order to deepen academic and practical exchanges based on the principle of "professional exchange and talent cultivation." Representatives from advisory entities, including the Macao Government Tourism Office, the Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Center, the Macau Hoteliers & Innkeepers Association, and Macao Pass Group Holding Ltd., attended and shared their insights.

The symposium was an initiative of the Sands Hospitality Academy, which seeks to equip the company's hospitality practitioners, such as hotel and restaurant managers, with practical skills and knowledge to help them exemplify international industry standards for exceptional levels of service quality and performance. The Sands Hospitality is one of eight sub-academies under the Sands China Academy – a comprehensive talent development platform established by Sands China for its team members and local industry professionals.

Intelligent Tourism Training: Dialogue Generation System
The event also featured a demonstration from a new school-enterprise cooperation project that applies artificial intelligence to Macao's leisure industry. The project's tourism training software features a real-time dialogue generation system that is based on Large Language Models (LLMs).

Developed by a team from the Faculty of Applied Sciences at MPU, the Sands Learning Buddy (Sandy) system combines foundational data provided by Sands China with the language generation capabilities of LLMs powered by artificial intelligence technology. Through reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), the dialogue generation system produces comprehensive, high-quality, and accurate local travel information.

Team members received training in tourism information during the symposium by interacting with the system through asking questions. In the future, the system can assist travellers in itinerary planning, sightseeing, transportation and dining, and provide recommendations for popular spots.

The event attracted around 300 participants, including Sands China team members, students, and industry professionals, both in person at The Londoner Macao and online via webcast.

In line with the Macao SAR government's policy of "building Macao with talent," Sands China has been committed to close collaboration with the government, top universities, and educational institutions to cultivate young talent and industry elites. The initiative also supports the "1+4" model, where the government consolidates the development of the city's tourism and leisure industry while putting special emphasis on promoting the development of four new key industries, including high-tech.

As the largest integrated resort operator in Macao, Sands China aims to be a role model for integrated resort development and play a leading role in talent development for the Greater Bay Area via the Sands China Academy and its sub-academies. Sands China offers such platforms as a way for industry experts to share their experience and knowledge with Sands China team members and with industry practitioners in the Greater Bay Area to foster their growth in various areas.

MPU actively supports mainland China's and Macao's development, leveraging its academic advantages to launch new courses focusing on the development of Macao's industries. It aims to cultivate high-quality talent for Macao, with a particular emphasis on nurturing applied interdisciplinary talent. The fostering of technology start-ups as well as tourism and leisure management talent will contribute to the upgrading of software, hardware and services in Macao's tourism industry, instilling new momentum into its development and continuously enhancing the competitiveness of Macao as a tourism city.

Photo caption: Sands China team members, tourism industry practitioners, and students of local tertiary educational institutions participate in a symposium co-organised by Sands China and MPU on smart tourism Friday at The Londoner Macao. Around 300 attended in total.

Photo caption: Sands China and MPU sign an MOU Friday at The Londoner Macao, aiming to strengthen research on smart tourism, technological innovation, and talent development by deepening exchanges between the academic and business sectors.

Pictured: Professor Im Sio Kei (left), Rector of Macao Polytechnic University; Dr. Wilfred Wong (right), President of Sands China Ltd.

Photo caption: Guests of honour officiate the opening ceremony of the smart tourism symposium Friday at The Londoner Macao.

Left to right: Wong Lai Mei, vice president of Macau Hoteliers & Innkeepers Association; Andy Wu Keng Kuong, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Macau; Dave Sun, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Sands China Ltd. and managing director of Venetian Macau Limited; Wong Kin Mou, head of the Department of Educational Research and Planning of DSEDJ of the Macao SAR; Professor Xiong Zhang, dean of the School of Information of the University of International Business and Economics and deputy director of the Basic Education Information Technology Course Steering Committee of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China; Sun Yaohua, director of the Economics Affairs Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR; Professor Im Sio Kei, rector of Macao Polytechnic University; Dr. Wilfred Wong, president of Sands China Ltd.; Ricky Hoi, deputy director of the Macao Government Tourism Office; Lao Nga Wong, member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and president of the Macau Travel Agency Association; Jack Chang, deputy director-general of the Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Centre; Iao Fu, head of the 1st Inspection Division, Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of the Macao SAR; John Sun, chairman and CEO of Macau Pass Group Holdings Limited; Jocelyn Wong, chairman of the Macau Hotel Association; Pun Weng Pio, deputy secretary-general of the Association of Macao Tourist Agents.

Photo caption: Sands China Ltd. President Dr. Wilfred Wong delivers his opening remarks at The Londoner Macao Friday for the MOU signing with MPU and their co-organised symposium on smart tourism.

Photo caption: MPU rector and professor Im Sio Kei delivers his opening remarks at The Londoner Macao Friday for the MOU signing with Sands China and their co-organised symposium on smart tourism.