In an effort to promote local tourism and get its commercial activity rolling again, Macau announced a couple of weeks ago a series of initiatives designed to reward those who got out and about around town. Things like local tourism routes and even, in some cases, spending vouchers were introduced and, at first glance, appeared to be helping boost domestic spending. Some of these staycation incentives, though, might not be around for long, though, as the city most famous for its casinos is said to be backing off a plan that would have included stays at area casino resorts, according to GGRAsia.
Macau has reportedly earmarked just over $35 million to spend on various products related to staycation and domestic spending, with the Macao Government Tourist Office (MGTO) overseeing the programs. The initiative established a long list of included activities, one of which would have been staycations at area hotels through the use of vouchers or other incentives. The program officially kicked off last month and is set to run through the end of September, with August being the month chosen for the casino resort promotion.
According to the director of the MGTO, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, the decision to remove the staycation promos stems from the fact that they would have been redundant. She explained during a recent event, “I think most large-scale hotels have already been selling some [staycation] packages, and even at very favourable rates. So, at this stage, the Macau government does not need to allocate public resources on a staycation programme.”
It’s also possible that there had been backlash received over the idea of the government given incentives for locals to hit the slot machines and gaming tables. While there wasn’t any official statement to that effect, the idea of using what amounts to public money to allow people to gamble may not have been seen as a smart move. However, it had never been made clear whether or not public funds would have been used for the scheme.
The MGTO’s local tourism initiatives are being sponsored by the Macao Foundation, a public entity that is partially funded through gaming taxes, and organized with the help of the Travel Industry Council of Macau, the Association of Macao Tourist Agents and the Macau Travel Agency Association. Since the Macau Foundation is also funded through means other than gaming taxes, the link between public money and gambling funding is tenuous at best.
The local tours will still include trips to the casino resorts, but primarily to visit non-gaming facilities. Among the stops on the tours are places like the backstage area of the House of Dancing Water show at City of Dreams Macau, the digital interactive art display at the Venetian Macao and more.