Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said today (Tuesday) that the recovery of the economy, tourism and employment in the gambling capital of the world will only be possible with the vaccine of covid-19 and only if all residents take it.
Responding to legislators over the 2021 government policy guidelines concerning how to fight unemployment in the SAR, Ho Iat Seng replied that the economic recovery, which will bring more jobs, will only be possible with a vaccine.
“If everyone gets the vaccine, we can see our way out, that is, there will be an economic recovery”, stressed the government head.
The official recalled that Macau, with an economy mainly focused on tourism, received around 40 million visitors in 2019, figures that contrast with the approximately four million tourists from January to September.
With the vaccine approved and recognized by the Chinese State, it will be possible to “remove the masks and allow all tourists from all over the world to travel to Macau”.
With the vaccine, new tourist opportunities will emerge, he said, “first for neighboring regions” without the need for a negative nucleic acid test.
“But only if the entire population undergoes the vaccine,” he noted.
For this year, the Macau Government expects the economy of the territory to fall by 60.9 per cent in 2020, due to the impact of the pandemic, according to the 2021 policy address, presented on Monday by the executive’s leader.
If the “situation of the epidemic in Macao and neighboring regions remains controlled and improved, GDP may reach double-digit annual growth” in 2021, the authorities believe, according to the document released today.
Macau was one of the first territories to be hit by the economic crisis due to the pandemic.
The territory registered its first case on 22 January and thereafter adopted several health measures to control the spread of the virus, such as the closure of casinos for 15 days, a plan to distribute masks and strong border controls.
Sanitary measures have proven to be effective, as Macau has only registered 46 cases of the disease and since June 26 no case has been detected, but it has practically paralyzed the economy, almost exclusively dependent on the Chinese casino and tourism industry.
Uncertainties in the territory are still many, with gaming operators in the territory presenting hundreds in losses in the third quarter of this year.
Macau casinos had closed 2019 with MOP292.4 billion in revenue.
The Macau Government collected only MOP24.34 billion until October in direct taxes on gambling, a drop of almost MOP70 billion in an annual comparison.
A year ago, the region had revenues of MOP94.03 billion until October.
For 2021, the Government expects to raise MOP45.5 billion, which, despite an improvement, is still a long way from the MOP112.71 billion collected in 2019.
The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 1,319,561 deaths resulting from more than 54.4 million cases of infection worldwide, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.