MGTO studies tourist taxes as seen in Venice, Japan

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is studying tourist taxes in Venice and Japan as research references for a similar scheme to be implemented in Macau.

Yesterday, MGTO Director Helena Maria de Senna Fernandes revealed that the bureau is comparing these two places, among others, which charge a tourism tax, to further studies on a scheme proposed for Macau.

However, the MGTO head explained that a tourism tax is not a topic to be considered by solely the city’s tourism authority. The tax itself is complicated and requires deeper research and analysis. The study results will be later delivered to other relevant governmental departments for further consideration.

“We don’t have a timetable yet, but I don’t think it will take too long,” said Senna Fernandes. “Different types of tourism taxes have different reasons, with effects also being different.”

However, unlike in other jurisdictions, Senna Fernandes insisted that a potential tax on tourists is not being considered as a means to reduce the number of people coming to the Macau SAR. In recent months, several lawmakers have expressed concerns over a growing phenomenon described as ‘over-tourism’.

Contrary to popular opinion, the tourism authority leader explained that in some cities where such a tax exists, the move was implemented to improve urban development, not to reduce the number of tourists. However, whether such a tourism tax in Macau will have the same effect still needs to be studied.

Earlier this year, lawmaker Agnes Lam proposed that the government establish a tourism tax, and that the tax revenue should be used to finance the tourism police and for maintaining community and tourism resources.

In October last year, Kyoto in Japan officially imposed an accommodation tax on tourists, becoming the first Japanese city to do so. The tax will be used to improve traffic conditions along sightseeing spots, to set guiding signs, to improve restrooms and to maintain the historical landscape. JZ

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