Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) said on Thursday that the city has dropped further discussion of the idea for a tourist tax, due to “plunged” visitor numbers coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic. In discussion of such a tax last year, prior to the crisis, a local official was indirectly cited saying it sought to address Macau’s handling capacity for tourists.
In 2019 the statistical daily average was circa 108,000 tourist visitors, based on that year’s tally of 39.4 million arrivals as reported previously be the city’s Statistics and Census Service. In recent weeks, due to various travel restrictions across the region and the wider world, the visitor numbers have been down to a trickle of a few hundred people per day.
MGTO conducted that year what it termed a “Feasibility Study on Tourist Tax Imposition”. It included opinions gathered from the general public and those that were working in the travel trade.
The tourism bureau said in its Thursday statement that after a “comprehensive assessment” of the study findings, along with the “characteristics of Macau’s tourism industry as well as the latest turn of the situation,” the Macau government had “decided to bring an end to its consideration of the possibility of tourist tax imposition”.
The tourism body added: “Visitor arrivals have plunged in Macau in recent months, causing various degrees of impact on the tourism-related industries. It has become a priority at this stage for the SAR Government to bolster recovery of the trade”.
MGTO also noted it had concluded from the feasibility study findings that levying a tourist tax to control visitor numbers might not be the “most effective” strategy, even during boom times.
“At the current stage,” the Macau government was “striving to bolster recovery of the trade through different measures such as tax reduction and economic support,” and wished to avoid creating “any adverse effects upon the tourism industry,” MGTO stated.
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"The Macau recovery continues to be disrupted by false starts, while the lack of [Chinese] public holidays for rest of the year should cap the pace of the rebound”
Andrew Lee and David Katz
Analysts at brokerage Jefferies LLC