Macau’s gross domestic product (GDP) is unlikely to surpass pre-pandemic levels until 2025, according to forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which warned the crisis had brought the over-reliance on the gaming industry into “sharp relief.”

In a concluding statement following an official visit to Macau, the IMF said it expects GDP to grow by 15 percent this year as tourism resumes and domestic demand improves. That growth will accelerate in 2023, before gradually coming down to its long-term potential of about 3.5 percent in annual growth.

However, the recovery will be slow due to the steep slump in GDP following the Covid outbreak which triggered a 54 percent contraction in the local economy in 2020.

The IMF said economic recovery is contingent of a safe reopening to tourists and improving the vaccination levels in Macau will be key to achieving this aim.

In the longer term, the IMF said the government’s diversification strategy, which includes the development of the Guangdong-Macau Intensive Cooperation Zone, will help to reduce the economy’s vulnerability to external shocks as long as it’s implemented well.

It will need to address structural bottlenecks, such as the limited supply of skilled labour.