The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has launched a survey on the potential introduction of a tourist tax to the city. The public opinion poll includes case analysis and separately, questionnaire exercises to be conducted respectively among Macau residents, visitors to the city, and members of the travel trade, said the tourism office in a Monday press release.
The poll of Macao residents – via an online questionnaire – began on Monday and runs until June 20, inclusive. One of the questions in the survey is about how revenue from any such tourism tax might be spent.
The opinions collected via this survey “will become a significant consideration in the study” about the potential introduction of a tourist tax to the city, said MGTO.
The bureau’s head, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2019, a casino industry trade show in Macau, that the government was still undecided whether to introduce a tourist tax to Macau.
“We are still collecting opinions,” Ms Senna Fernandes said. “There are different ideas, different opinions.”
She added the government had no proposal so far on how a tourist tax could be implemented in Macau, namely what channel or channels to use to charge such a levy on tourists.
Ms Senna Fernandes said in March that MGTO’s study would look into why some destinations had introduced tourist taxes, and what had been the outcome of such policies so far.
The majority of gamblers in Macau’s casinos are tourists. Investment analysts however have noted in previous commentary on Macau that there need not be a direct correlation between numbers of tourists to Macau and gaming spend in casinos. This is because research indicates that high-stakes play by a relatively small number of visitors is still an important component of the market.
In January Ms Senna Fernandes had noted that the Macau authorities were forecasting the 2019 visitor tally to the city could be more than 38 million. In 2018, the aggregate number of visitor arrivals exceeded 35.80 million, an increase of 9.8 percent from 2017, according to official data.
“By carrying out the month-long opinion poll, the office [MGTO] hopes to learn about the preference and points of view of residents regarding the feasibility of imposing tourist tax in Macau,” stated the tourism bureau in Monday’s release.
MGTO said additionally that it has distributed separate questionnaires to entities in Macau’s travel industry. The bureau would also conduct interviews with visitors prior to their departure from Macau, in order to “collect opinions … to serve as significant reference for the study”.
Some sectors of Macau’s community have raised concerns about the increasing number of visitors to the city, calling for the introduction of measures that could guarantee the sustainable development of the city’s tourism industry.
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