Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said on Thursday he was confident and optimistic that the number of visitor arrivals this year would be similar to the one of last year, which stood at 31.5 million.
He also said that according to a study on the city’s tourism carrying capacity Macau’s “reasonable” number of visitor arrival should range about 89,000 to 92,000 per day, or around 32 million per year. He said that within that range locals’ livelihoods would not be affected while tourism would develop healthily, as well as the city’s economy as a whole.
Asked by reporters about the government’s plans to recover the declining visitor numbers recorded in the first seven month of this year, Tam said the government would come up with various promotional activities in the next few months to attract more visitors.
According to figures released by the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC) last month, visitor arrivals totaled 17.4 million in the first seven months of this year, down 3.5 percent year-on-year.
Tam also said that the drop in visitor arrivals was due to the international economic slowdown, adding that it was not only a problem in Macau.
Local government officials early this year held a number of meetings with the central government in Beijing to convey their concerns about the city’s limited tourism carrying capacity, hoping that not too many visitors from the mainland would choose to visit Macau during the mainland’s major festivals and holidays.
Asked by reporters how to balance the government’s plans in raising the number of visitor arrivals and the city’s limited tourism carrying capacity, Tam said that since the meetings with the central government early this year there had been no “special” situations where too many visitors congested the city’s most popular tourist spots.
He also said that last year’s number of visitor arrivals of about 31.5 million was “reasonable”.
“After a series of promotional activities has been carried out …and more tourism facilities will be completed later this year…I am confident and very optimistic that the number of visitor arrivals [this year] will be similar to last year,” Tam said.
“The government does not want too many visitors as the city cannot cope with them and residents’ livelihoods will be affected,” Tam said, adding, “We hope to keep the number of visitors within a reasonable range. With a reasonable number of visitors the tourism sector will develop healthily, as well as the economy.”
Tam also said the government would continue to encourage mainland visitors to visit the city during the whole year, not just during festivals and holidays in the mainland.