Prof. Rob Law

Prof. Angus Chu

Previously, “Plataforma Macau” interviewed APAEM scholars in the field of economics and tourism, Prof. Rob Law and Prof. Angus Chu, about their opinions on Macao’s economy under COVID-19 uncertainties.

Within two weeks, there were two epidemics in Macao, and two region-wide nucleic acid tests were carried out. Restrictions on entry and exit have been increased, making every effort to curb the spread of the epidemic and maintaining economic stability has become an important task. Prof. Angus Chu, director of the Department of Economics of the University of Macau, said that even if the epidemic prevention measures are strict, they are all reasonable. He told the “Plataforma”: “To keep the border open, a safe environment with a high vaccination rate is essential.” In addition, he mentioned the risks posed by the new coronavirus variants-the effectiveness of the vaccine has declined, and the variant virus is highly infectious. At present, Macau is the city with the lowest vaccination rate in China, reaching only 54.2%. Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng emphasized this point at a press conference on September 29.

Prof. Rob Law, a scholar specialising in smart tourism, agrees with the government’s anti-epidemic measures. He said: “I am very pleased that the Macau government is adopting strict anti-epidemic policies to control the epidemic. One of the main difficulties of Macao’s tourism industry is tourist reduction.” Rob Law told the “Plataforma” that it is important for residents and tourists to portray Macau as a “safe city”. He pointed out: “The most important thing is to regain the confidence of Macau residents and tourists and make them believe that Macau is a safe city that is livable and suitable for travel. When everything returns to normal, tourism revenue will no longer be a major concern.”

It is not difficult to notice that there has been no change in Macau for more than 20 years. Prof. Angus Chu said: “Macau’s economy relies on tourism, and most of the tourists come from the mainland.” According to information from the Tourism Bureau, Macau had nearly 39.5 million tourists in 2019, and nearly 70% came from the mainland. In 2020, due to the epidemic restricting the entry of foreigners, it will still account for 5.9 million tourists, and the proportion of mainland tourists will increase (81%). This confirms the importance of reopening the border, especially the border with the mainland. Prof. Angus Chu continued: “To maintain the stability of Macao’s tourists, it is more important to hope that the government will eventually achieve positive results in terms of vaccination rates.” The government’s goal is to achieve a vaccination rate of 80%. The Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng also emphasized this point in September. He said that only when the vaccination rate has increased significantly will he have the opportunity to discuss with the Mainland on relaxing border restrictions. He also mentioned the success of Portugal’s high vaccination rate.

Prof. Rob Law said: “Macao can improve the present through technological means.” Regarding the mainland’s epidemic prevention and control measures, he suggested using software that can track people’s whereabouts: “This allows the government to detect and respond to potential infections quickly.” Regarding the development of the tourism industry, he pointed out that the use of software can better improve the experience of tourists: “Pay attention to the choices of tourists, where is more popular, or what to do during the tour. For example, after visiting Macau, what software did they use to share on social platforms. ”

“Plataforma” also contacted SMEs to understand the current dilemma. Prof. Angus Chu said: “The new round of support for SMEs can buy precious time for companies to survive and wait for the dawn of hope. One of the great advantages of the Macau government is its fiscal reserves.” Prof. Angus Chu believes that it is inevitable to “maintain the local economy.” But nothing is eternal, and the solution is “don’t waste time provided, ensure the vaccination rate as soon as possible.”

Full Article: Plataforma Macau