Policy Research on Development and Carrying Capacity of Macao Tourism Industry

Commissioned by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao S.A.R. and coordinated by the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT), a policy research on tourism development and carrying capacity of Macao was compiled in November 2007.


In this research, the Tourism Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) was invited by IFT to join the research team. In June 2007, team members from IFT and CASS jointly conducted a series of interviews with different local government departments and tourism stakeholders and had on-site observations at various tourist attractions. Based on primary and secondary data, CASS compiled the final report to provide suggestions for the strategic development of Macao’s tourism industry.


The report pointed out that Macao’s tourism industry currently enjoys a number of opportunities and strengths because of her unique background. Firstly, Macao not only enjoys a strategic location in the East Asian area where the highest potential economic growth can be found, but also profits from solid support from the Central Government as an independent policy-making authority (special administrative region). Secondly, Macao not only understands how to capitalise on its tourism and gaming industry to attract more tourists, but is also aware of the risk of over-concentration in these main sectors. Therefore, using Las Vegas as a reference, Macao is exploring other diversified tourism products such as exhibition, entertainment, cuisine and leisure to make tourism development sustainable. Also, with these developments and benefits of new policies such as CEPA, Macao can now attract more tourists from Mainland and other parts of the world.


However, when focusing on and enjoying the strengths and opportunities, Macao should still monitor the potential threats and weaknesses in its tourism development. For the gaming industry, its business risk and negative effects on the local community cannot be ignored. Macao also needs to face competition from other regions in

Asia Pacific. Locally, limitation in land area and human resources stands in the way of tourism industry development. Finally, one should not overlook the changing relationship between Mainland and Taiwan province, as any change will trigger off various impacts on Macao’s economic and tourism development.


To tackle the mentioned issues and capitalise on the strengths, the report raised different suggestions. From a strategic standpoint, Macao is suggested to diversify its current set of tourism-related industries and look actively for business opportunities by cooperating with neighbouring tourism destinations (e.g. in Pan Pearl River Delta) and attract human and capital resources globally. Also, Macao’s tourism industry would benefit from more environmental and heritage protection.


From a policy angle, Macao needs to have urban planning in place in order to improve urban infrastructure management and property development. Also, Macao could consider establishing a central promoting force (e.g. including departments in the area of economics, culture and tourism) equipped with the necessary human and financial resources to effectively promote Macao abroad to attract more tourists, investment and cooperation opportunities. The promotion could centre on but not limited to Macao’s unique gaming and ex-Portuguese colonial culture.


Based on the fact that Macao has limited human resources, the report suggests that the Government put more effort in education and training to raise workforce quality. Besides that, Macao is suggested to consider establishing a “clean” image, which refers to Macao being an environmentally clean and socially peaceful city. Finally, the Government is advised to place emphasis on tourism-related researches, by inviting foreign experts to team up with local tourism stakeholders and scholars. This will create good conditions for the long-term sustainable development of Macao’s tourism industry