Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said Monday the government was open to discussing lawmaker Agnes Lam Iok Fong’s recent proposal to charge tourists an entry fee in an attempt to control the number of visitor arrivals.
Tam told reporters on the sidelines of the International Gastronomy Forum Macau at Galaxy Macau’s JW Marriot Hotel that he found Lam’s proposal “interesting”, but acknowledged that as there existed different opinions about her suggestion, civil society needed to discuss the idea.
Tam said that Lam could ask her fellow lawmakers if they agreed or not with her proposal, adding that the government was open “not just to her idea.”
The policy secretary also pointed out, according to Radio Macau, “You know that there are many lobbies”.
According to government-owned broadcaster TDM’s Portuguese-language radio station, Tam also underlined Macau’s strong growth in visitor arrivals in the past 19 years, pointing out that in 1999 the number stood at seven million, while the government estimated that more than 35 million visited Macau last year.
In the past, Tam had told the media that he was ready to negotiate with the central government a ceiling on the entry of mainland Chinese tourists to Macau.
Now, according to Radio Macau, Tam is focused on “quality tourism”.
“It has always been our policy to attract better tourists to Macau, such as European tourists, Portuguese, Spaniards and the British who come to appreciate our culture…, our mixed Portuguese-Chinese culture.” he said.
“We should attract better tourists who come to Macau to appreciate our world heritage, our culture and gastronomy, who come to consume, to stimulate the economy,” the policy secretary said.
Tam also underlined the existing entry restrictions for mainlanders, pointing that only 49 mainland Chinese cities facilitate their residents’ Macau-bound trips. “Macau is not open for all [mainland] Chinese cities,” Radio Macau quoted Tam as saying.