Public-private partnerships: Macao’s medicine against COVID-19

A study by an IFTM team sheds light on government efforts to protect the local tourism sector from the full force of the pandemic

Research Corner | A partnership between Macau Business and Macau Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM)


An academic article produced by a team of researchers from IFTM indicates that public-private partnerships can be used as a tool to promote the recovery of tourism following the negative effects of COVID-19. The paper – using Macau as a case study – says public-private partnerships are ‘not a panacea’, but when ‘properly managed’ they can be ‘an effective instrument’ to tackle the challenges posed. by the pandemic.

The research was published in the June issue of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The study was developed by IFTM researchers Dr. Penny Wan Yim King, Dr. Li Xiangping, Dr. Virginia Lau Meng Chan and Dr. Leonardo (Don) Dioko.

The paper was titled “Destination Governance in Times of Crisis and the Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Post-COVID-19 Tourism Recovery: The Case of Macau.” It was funded by IFTM and supported by the IFTM Tourism Research Center.

“Macau exemplifies how the pandemic has changed the mindset” of tourism industry professionals, enabling them to be “innovative in developing new products and strategies,” the IFTM team wrote. .

Stakeholders in Macau’s tourism industry have responded to the global health crisis “by creating a form of public-private partnership governance”. Success was achieved not only because of a “close development” of this type of partnership and a “step-by-step approach”, but also because of the “timely intervention” of the Macau government to “orient and promote partnership”.

The research indicated that Macao’s chief executive, Ho Iat Seng, had assumed the role in government of “crisis leader”. Ho had encouraged “government offices to communicate and collaborate with tourism businesses” in the city, including for several public-private action stimulus programs. These covered incentives for tourism operators to adjust their business models and invest in innovation and digitalisation. Incentives have also been created to stimulate the introduction of new tourism products targeting the available market at any given time of the crisis. This included domestic tourism for locals when COVID-19 travel restrictions were at their peak. Examples included the “Macau, Ready Go!” Local Tours,” backed by the Macau Government Tourism Board, and Macau resorts and hotels are marketing new “staycation” packages specifically to appeal to local customers.

The chief executive and the government “also adjusted strategies in a timely manner by reviewing the crisis, listening to feedback and monitoring the results of the partnership,” the document points out. “With government playing a decisive role, industry players have become very cooperative in working towards the common goals of survival and recovery.”

Good communication matters

The research said that, in the case of Macau, “buy-in to common goals was achieved through frequent communication of pandemic information and expert opinions.” Clear communication based on trust could “facilitate mutual understanding and accelerate the process of structuring between public and private actors”, and could do so in all future scenarios, the IFTM team concluded.

The authors emphasized that “during an unprecedented crisis like COVID-19, leaders must act quickly, honestly and proactively, and offer practical advice to reassure people.” Crisis leaders should be active in identifying potential partners who are willing to form a collaboration for reviving the local economy and tourism sector, the IFTM researchers said.

“Governments can set up task forces to help bring these potential partners together and offer them policies and incentives,” the authors said. “Developing common goals and a common direction is particularly important. Clear and shared objectives unite different sectors and guide the public-private partnership.

The work was part of a collaborative research project on crisis management regarding tourism activity in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. The whole project was carried out in partnership with the School of Tourism Management of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong Province.


– Researchers

Dr Penny Wan Yim King is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Macao Institute of Tourism Studies (IFTM). She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hong Kong. His academic research focuses on tourism governance, accessible tourism, sustainable tourism planning and development, integrated resort management and urban planning. Dr. Wan has served as a member of the editorial board and reviewer of several high profile academic journals in the field of tourism.

Dr. Li Xiangping is a lecturer at IFTM. Dr. Li holds a PhD in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia, USA. His research interests include sustainable tourism development, destination marketing and tourist behavior. She has participated in several projects commissioned by the Macao SAR government, either as a principal researcher or as a co-researcher.

IFTM lecturer Dr Virginie Lau Meng Chan holds a doctorate in business administration from the University of Saint Joseph. His academic research interests encompass employee stress and resilience, tourist experience and behavior, networking and “guanxi” within organizations, communication related to corporate social responsibility and branding. .

Professor Leonardo (Don) Dioko is director of research at IFTM. He holds a PhD in Business Organization and Management from the current ISCTE Business School in Portugal. His academic research interests focus on destination branding and tourism marketing, the impacts of rapid tourism growth, and traveler behavior and psychology. Professor Dioko has supervised a number of policy research studies commissioned from IFTM by the Macau government or its agencies.


– The paper

Yim King Penny Wan, Xiangping Li, Virginia Meng-Chan Lau and Leonardo (Don) Dioko: “Governance of destinations in times of crisis and the role of public-private partnerships in the recovery of tourism after Covid-19: the case of Macao”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Volume 51, pages 218 to 228, 2022.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhtm.2022.03.012