“Gaming will be the single sector that will pull us back and give us jobs … that’s a fact,” said Desmond Lam, Professor in Integrated Resort and Tourism Management at the University of Macau, on Wednesday.
Lam was speaking at a breakfast organized by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce where he analyzed the challenges the SAR and its core industry faces in overcoming COVID-19.
“A very simple fact is we need gaming to reactivate right now to contribute back in terms of revenue,” said Professor Lam, adding that now is also the ideal time to rethink the recent push to grow mass market tourism in favor of VIP visitors. “Do we need low impact, low value customers or do we want to focus more on the high impact, high value customers? I used to say that we should keep the VIP market, but it’s actually more important than mass market now.”
Noting that Macau’s gaming operators have been among the hardest hit by border closures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the scholar believes collaboration between the government and its number one industry stakeholders is key to establishing the city as an attractive tourism destination in the future.
“Tourism is a major contributor to pandemics because it spreads viruses, but it’s also a victim of the pandemic. We contribute to and get hit by a pandemic,” Professor Lam said. Nevertheless, it’s time for Macau to fight for its borders to reopen, “at least for immediate post pandemic recovery, and this is what we need right now. We just have to fight for it to happen.”