Macao ceases consideration for tourist tax imposition

 Friday, May 8, 2020 


After making a comprehensive assessment of the findings of the Feasibility Study on Tourist Tax Imposition, the characteristics of Macao’s tourism industry as well as the latest turn of the situation, the Special Administrative Region Government decided to bring an end to its consideration of the possibility of tourist tax imposition. Visitor arrivals have plunged in Macao in recent months, causing various degrees of impact on the tourism-related industries. It has become a priority at this stage for the SAR Government to bolster recovery of the trade.

Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) completed the Feasibility Study on Tourist Tax Imposition last year. The findings revealed a divergence of opinions among different stakeholders in the society. The study drew reference on the eleven improvement strategies proposed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to cope with overtourism, and revealed that more cities opted for the strategies of “promoting the dispersal of visitors within the city and beyond” and “improving urban infrastructure and facilities”. In consideration of Macao’s goal towards sustainable tourism development, the study findings indicated that “regulating increase in visitor numbers by levying tourist tax may not be the most effective measure applicable to Macao”.

Overshadowed by the impact of the happenings in Hong Kong upon Macao’s tourism industry since mid-2019, monthly visitor arrivals in Macao in 2019 experienced a gradual downfall in terms of year-on-year variation. In sharp contrast with the year-on-year double-digit rise over the first seven months, visitor figures dwindled to a double-digit decline at the end of 2019. In the wake of the virus outbreak this year, visitor arrivals dropped even drastically by over 90%, from 2.85 million in January down to only 210,000 in March. It was such a massive blow to the local tourism industry that other related sectors including hotel, catering and retail industries were affected as well. The turn of the situation reflected that the tourism industry is by nature more susceptible to external factors. When an emergency or unforeseen situation arises, the travel trade is often in the forefront to experience the impact, followed by other related industries shortly after in various degrees.

With the pivotal role of tourism in the local economy, the course of tourism development towards sustainability directly influences Macao’s economic prospects. After comprehensive contemplation of the study findings, the characteristics of local tourism as well as the turn of the situation, the SAR Government decided to end its consideration of tourist tax imposition.

At the current stage, the SAR Government is striving to bolster recovery of the trade through different measures such as tax reduction and economic support, and avoid bringing any adverse effects upon the tourism industry.

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