The Macao SAR Government will foster efforts to expedite recovery and development of the tourism industry in 2021 in order to accelerate economic revitalisation following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Executive of the Macao SAR Ho Iat Seng presented these efforts as part of the 10 major strands (more details are available here) of his Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2021. This year’s document, titled “Strengthening the foundation for consolidation, tackling challenges head on”, was unveiled in the Legislative Assembly on 16 November.
Answering questions on the Policy Address from legislators on 17 November, Chief Executive Ho said the Macao SAR Government, in a bid to kick-start recovery of Macao’s tourism sector, was making various efforts in marketing work, in order to let more Mainland Chinese know that quarantine is no longer required of them on arrival in Macao, and that the city has introduced a series of tourism incentive schemes.
The Chief Executive noted that if circumstances permitted, the Macao SAR Government would strive to host large-scale festive events to attract more visitors for the New Year and other holidays.
However, he expected that only when Macao reopened its doors to all visitors, upon the imminent introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine, could the city reverse the downward pressure on the local economy and local employment posed by the pandemic.
Tourism policies for 2021
In the Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2021, the Macao SAR Government proposed to give full play to the leading function of integrated tourism as the pillar industry, and to promote the building of Macao as a world centre of tourism and leisure. That would include strengthening the development of tourism and other associated sectors, deepening integration of tourism with other local industries including meetings and conventions, cultural and creative industries, and traditional Chinese medicine.
The Macao SAR Government would also strengthen cultural heritage tourism promotion, pushing forward the development of quality tour routes across Macao.
Other goals include the promotion of quality tourism and of smart tourism, and to encourage the tourism industry to develop more featured products that highlight the city as a safe destination in terms of public health, in order to drive Macao’s overall economic recovery. Adjustments to the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan will be conducted, in light of the latest situation in tourism, and in order to help consolidate Macao’s role as a regional and international tourism destination.
On regional cooperation, the administration will continue to expedite tourism collaboration with neighbouring Hengqin Island, including the joint development of tourism products to facilitate travel in Macao and Hengqin.
Regarding other matters, the development of Macao as a base for tourism education and training for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will continue to be a priority for the Macao SAR Government in 2021, as will the cultivation of qualified professionals for the tourism industry.
A number of existing initiatives will be continued in 2021. The Government wants to further the promotion of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Championing of Macanese cuisine will be strengthened, including the production of educational cooking videos.
Work to expand Macau International Airport, which includes a plan to remodel part of Taipa Ferry Terminal as a second passenger terminal to serve the neighbouring airport, will also move ahead next year.
Boosting synergies via “Tourism+”
Answering questions in the Legislative Assembly, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong provided legislators with further details regarding tourism policies for 2021. He elaborated on the Macao SAR Government’s proposed “Tourism+” policy, which aims to provide support to the industry in the development of new products associated with tourism. Through deepening integration of tourism with different sectors through Tourism+, the goal is to establish joint projects between different industries, to meet the needs of inbound visitors in the fields of tourism, shopping and entertainment.
The official explained that the overall Tourism+ concept aimed to combine components such as e-commerce, events, culture, sports, food, shopping and entertainment, to enrich the experience of visitors coming to Macao, in order for them to find it appealing to keep returning.
Secretary Lei stated that sports tourism was an important component of the tourism industry, representing a new trend in today’s lifestyle as shown by people making long trips either to watch or take part in sports events. He mentioned as an example the number of fans in Macao of long-distance running, who regularly travel to different parts of the world to take part in marathons and also engage in tourism activities. As pointed out by Secretary Lei, there was a growing urban middle class in Mainland China – including in neighbouring cities to Macao – showing interest in visiting new destinations either to watch or take part in sports events. “Tourism+ Sport” was a new direction that met the needs of such an emerging group.
Secretary Lei also highlighted the tourism potential of the UNESCO-listed Macao Historic Centre, and of Macao’s role as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. He noted that Macao’s gastronomy culture could potentially boost local tourism, as the city boasted a number of highly rated fine-dining restaurants, complemented by dozens of shops selling local delicacies.
|Focus on pandemic control|
The Macao SAR Government’s policies for 2021 will, overall, strengthen the foundation and consolidation of work to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling challenges head on; revitalise the economy; care for people’s livelihoods; promote economic diversification; facilitate administrative reform; and pursue innovative development, said Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, during his Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2021, delivered on 16 November.
The first strand of the Policy Address is dedicated to “normalise epidemic prevention and control”. Macao should persist in the pandemic prevention strategy “preventing imported cases and a rebound of COVID-19”. Meanwhile, the Macao SAR Government plans to reinforce regional joint prevention and control efforts, strive to expedite vaccine supplies, and plan for a contingency mobile cabin hospital.
To “accelerate recovery in the local economy”, the Macao SAR Government proposes to increase investment in infrastructure, including: research work for the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) East Line; the start of construction for transport infrastructure such as LRT Hengqin Port Connection; and work related with the fourth Macao-Taipa cross-harbour route. The Chief Executive also pointed out the need to promote stable and healthy development of the gaming industry, and to commence preparatory and preliminary work for the new gaming concessions.
The Macao SAR leader said the Government would “bolster efforts toward adequate economic diversification”. That would include facilitating professional and market-orientated development of the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry, and promoting industrialisation of culture and sport. The local authorities will also expedite development of a modern financial services industry and the establishment of a bond market, and will further support industrialisation of traditional Chinese medicine.
The Chief Executive stressed that public welfare and livelihood expenditures would not be reduced in 2021, despite the Macao SAR Government’s austerity measures to cope with the financial challenges posed to the city’s purse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government would continue implementing existing beneficial measures for the public, he said.
A number of welfare measures will be continued in 2021. They include: the Wealth Partaking Scheme; personal income tax waiver and deduction initiatives; a property tax waver; water and electricity tariff subsidies for eligible residential and general non-residential users; a healthcare voucher scheme; and subsidies for disadvantaged families.
The Macao SAR Government will continue to safeguard giving priority to local residents regarding employment, while enhancing medical and healthcare facilities. The Government additionally plans to speed up implementation of public construction projects, including public housing.
In addition, Chief Executive Ho said the Government would step up efforts for developing “digital government”, with a view to enhancing administrative effectiveness. Restructuring of public departments would continue; auditing and supervision tasks would be strengthened; and public departments would be encouraged to optimise the use of public funds.
Positioning Macao as a smart and liveable city
The 2021 Policy Address highlights a number of measures regarding developing Macao as a smart and liveable city. That includes the announcement next year of the finalised Macao Urban Master Plan (2020-2040), and the commencement of the detailed planning for all functional urban zones. Measures for the prevention of, or where necessary response to, disasters, will be strengthened and work to intensify environmental protection and waste reduction will continue.
The Government is additionally proposing to set up the “Committee for Establishment of a Base for Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation”. It would also facilitate legislation on protection and management of the Historic Centre of Macao, and merge the Culture Fund and the Cultural Industry Fund.
An important strand in the Policy Address is to “safeguard national security and social stability”. The administration will strive to perfect the legal system and law enforcement system for safeguarding national security; it will continue promoting the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Macao SAR.
The Government will work for Macao to “proactively integrate into the overall national development plan”; align with the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan; and to promote the development of the Greater Bay Area.
For more information on the Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2021, please visit www.policyaddress.gov.mo.