Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng has been quoted as saying his message to the central government is “thanks, you got our heartfelt thanks, but we can’t receive more” mainland visitors.
The Portuguese-language radio channel of government broadcaster TDM reported Tam’s remarks last Thursday, citing Portugal’s Lusa newswire.
The TDM news quoted Tam as saying that after the Chinese New Year holiday the local government would hold talks with various central government ministries to present its “ideas and difficulties” concerning the large number of mainlanders visiting Macau.
TDM said that the Macau government would talk to the central government to limit the number of mainlanders allowed to visit Macau.
TDM also quoted Tam as saying that “there will be a limit, but I can’t tell you the figure.” However, the policy secretary pledged that the government will adopt a “scientific” method to tackle the issue, adding that any measure would take its impact on Macau’s tourism-dependent economy into account.
Tam was also quoted as saying that seasonal limits on the number of visitors from the mainland could be imposed, adding that the measures would “very soon” get off the ground. He was adamant that the city “cannot receive more people”.
He also said that more than last year’s number of 31 million visitor arrivals would be “impossible” for Macau to handle.
According to information provided by the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) on Tuesday, the number of visitor arrivals reached 780,599 between last Thursday, the first day of the Chinese New Year, and Monday, a three percent increase year on year. Mainlanders accounted for nearly 74 percent of the total number of arrivals.
Speaking during a TDM Chinese-language radio phone-in programme last Thursday, Tam said that due to Macau’s limited carrying capacity, he planned to discuss with central government officials the “saturation point”for the number of mainlanders visiting Macau. He also said that while tourists were the main source of income for many businesses in Macau, he would always make local residents’ quality of life his priority.
Later the same day, when asked by reporters while attending a Chinese New Year ceremony in Largo do Senado, Tam said that he did not have a fixed agenda for his upcoming talks with central government officials in Beijing, but he believed that changes to entry and exit procedures for mainlanders visiting Macau could be considered. (macaunews/macaupost)