Gov’t scraps tourism tax possibility

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has stated today (Thursday) that after a feasibility study on the matter and considering the plunge in visitor numbers this year it decided to scrap the possibility of imposing a tourism tax.

‘The SAR Government decided to bring an end to its consideration of the possibility of tourist tax impositionVisitor 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 the recovery of the trade,’ the MGTO announced.

The number of visitor arrivals has fallen by 69 per cent year-on-year to some 3.2 million, as entry and travel restrictions started being imposed due to the progression of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourism authorities conducted a feasibility study on this possibility last year, which showed that while the overwhelming majority of residents are in favour of introducing a tourist tax in Macau the majority of tourism operators are against it.

The study had proposed a tourism tax between MOP100 (US$12.4) and MOP200.

‘The study drew reference on the eleven improvement strategies proposed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to cope with overtourism, and revealed that more cities opted for the strategies of ‘promoting the dispersal of visitors within the city and beyond’ and ‘improving urban infrastructure and facilities,’ the department noted.

‘In consideration of Macau’s goal towards sustainable tourism development, the study findings indicated that ‘regulating increase in visitor numbers by levying tourist tax may not be the most effective measure applicable to Macau’.

Previously analysts had predicted that imposing a tourism tax could impact low-end tourism such as day-trippers, but would have a minimal impact on the city’s gaming revenues.

The MGTO noted how that the local tourism industry had already been greatly impacted by the Hong Kong public protests last year, with novel coronavirus leading to a plunge In in visitor arrivals over 90 per cent from 2.85 million in January down to only 210,000 in March.

‘It was such a massive blow to the local tourism industry that other related sectors including hotel, catering and retail industries were affected as well. The turn of the situation reflected that the tourism industry is by nature more susceptible to external factors,’ the tourism department added.

Therefore the SAR Government decided to end its consideration for a tourist tax and will focus on bolstering economic recovery of the sector through measures such as tax reductions and economic support.