The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) hopes to complete its report on the findings of a three-phase survey about the feasibility of introducing a tourist tax by the end of this year, MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said on Tuesday.
Senna Fernandes made the remarks while talking to reporters after the opening ceremony of the 13th Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia at the Venetian in Cotaion Tuesday. The three-day expo is expected to attract 18,000 trade visitors, according to the co-organisers, Reed Exhibition and the American Gaming Association (AGA).
According to Senna Fernandes, the objective of the survey is to “broadly listen” to local people’s views on the feasibility of implementing the tourist tax, and also to “widely collect” opinions based on quantitative and systematic methods. Senna Fernandes said she hoped the findings would facilitate a comprehensive analysis for MGTO’s “policy reference” by the end of this year.
When asked by the media if MGTO would go ahead with the tax if the public supported its implementation, Senna Fernandes said her office would first have to report the survey’s findings to its superior entity.
MGTO is part of the policy portfolio of Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng.
Senna Fernandes also told the media that the survey will be conducted in three phases. The first phase started with an online survey targeting local residents on Monday.
After the first phase, which is slated to end on June 20, MGTO will collect visitors’ opinions while they are leaving via Macau’s various border checkpoints.
In the third phase, MGTO will send out questionnaires to tourism industry representatives, according to Senna Fernandes.
If the government decides to implement the tourist tax, it would be the first time that Macau’s visitor arrivals are charged an “entry fee”.
The government has not said how much it would charge visitors to enter Macau.
While some community leaders and lawmakers have called for the tourist tax as a way of controlling the number of visitor arrivals, tourism, gaming and hospitality representatives have expressed doubts about its usefulness.
Macau recorded 35.8 million visitor arrivals last year, up by 9.8 percent year-on-year, according to the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC).
Some civic leaders have warned that Macau is already affected by “overtourism”, but tourism sector representatives say that the city should be able to handle large visitor arrival numbers, provided that the government improves its crowd management and public transport facilities.
Some tourism experts have said that Macau could cope with up to 40 million visitor arrivals a year.