Macau’s tourism authority aims to subsidise package tour travellers drawn either from overseas, or Hong Kong or Taiwan, at a rate of MOP350 (about US$43) per head if they stay one night, or MOP500 (about US$62) per head, if they stay two consecutive nights, said on Monday an official.
Cheng Wai Tong, deputy director at the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), made the remarks to local media, adding that the proposal still had to be approved.
The Macau government already has a similar subsidy scheme for package tour travellers from mainland China. The scheme offers up to MOP250 per night per tourist from mainland China, for tour groups that comprise at least 10 people.
Package tour group business from the Chinese mainland restarted on Monday, after a three-year suspension linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
MGTO’s Mr Cheng noted in his Monday remarks as cited by local media, that tour operators in Macau were currently arranging for groups from Southeast Asia to visit Macau. Last week, the tourism bureau had mentioned a marketing campaign planned for Thailand.
Separately, Mr Cheng’s boss, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, MGTO’s director, said that the tourism office’s near-term goal was to focus certain promotion effort into those overseas markets reachable by short-haul flight to Macau. She mentioned, in particular, places where consumers had already expressed interest in visiting Macau.
Her comments were featured in a written reply to a local legislator’s query, asking what was being done to attract a greater number of foreign customers to Macau’s casinos.
Ms Senna Fernandes’ reply also indicated MGTO would prioritise the resumption of representative-office activities in South Korea and Thailand. South Korea has a casino industry, but only one of the 17 venues is permitted to cater to local gamblers. Thailand does not have a legal casino sector, but is mulling legalisation.
The Macau government has a stated policy aim of encouraging its casino concessionaires to draw more of their customers from markets beyond China. The aspiration was mentioned in the terms of reference for the new round of gaming concessions. The six incumbents were announced in late November as successful bidders among the seven applicants, for new, 10-year rights.
In December, the Macau authorities confirmed Macau was to permit creation of distinct zones on its casino floors – and use there of specially-designated gambling chips – solely for overseas players. The moves are part of a new gaming tax system that came into effect from January 1, aligning with the start of those fresh concessions.
Under the permitted scheme of gambling areas reserved for foreigners, Macau’s casino concessionaires might be entitled to an exemption – at the Chief Executive’s discretion – of up to 5 percentage points of the 40 percent government levy on gross gaming revenue. But the operators would need to apply for any such tax relief. It would not be granted automatically on the gambling of foreign players.
The resumption just of package tour business from mainland China should help Macau casinos gain more foot traffic for their mass gaming floors, said industry observers in recent comments to GGRAsia.
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