A tourist tax being proposed by the Macao Government Tourism Office is the wrong path to take in combatting “over-tourism” to the Macau, according to a leading scholar.
Professor Glenn McCartney, Associate Professor in International Integrated Resort Management, University of Macau, told Inside Asian Gaming at G2E Asia on Wednesday that applying a tourism tax was not the correct solution for Macau in its pursuit of a higher quality but lower volume of visitation.
“We’ve identified that there is a problem and are now looking for solutions to over-tourism, but is it a good solution? I don’t believe a tourist tax is the cure for the problem we’ve got right now,” McCartney said.
“The main reason is that people don’t really like paying tax from a visitors’ point of view. If I’m a premium mass player or a business traveller and you’re slapping another tax on me as I’m coming across the border, I’m not going to be too happy about it.
“Macau is looking at this tax because Vienna is looking at this tax, but when you’re a city that relies so heavily on the casino industry I don’t think the tourist tax is the way forward.”
His comments follow an MGTO announcement on Tuesday that it has commenced a feasibility study on the proposed tourist tax, including a public opinion poll that will run for the next month.
McCartney said he fully supports the idea of public consultation but added the best way to attract high quality visitation is to implement a comprehensive branding strategy, rather than a tourist tax, for the SAR.
“Branding is at the top of my tick box of what you can do,” he said.
“When you look at the Las Vegas sign, it immediately puts images into your mind, sending a message of an entertainment city, events, conventions. That’s what Macau’s brand has to do. The logo, the slogans – it needs to give the perception to the visitor that Macau is where they want to go and want to pay money to stay, go to a conference, dine and see events.”