Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, the head of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), forecasts that the number of tourists visiting Macau during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday period will “increase in the range of 1 percent to 3 percent” compared to the equivalent period in 2017.
“We are forecasting a slight increase in the number of tourists from Chinese markets, mainly from mainland China, Hong Kong and maybe Taiwan,” Ms Senna Fernandes (pictured) told reporters on the sidelines of a public event on Wednesday.
During 2017’s week-long holiday period for Chinese New Year, Macau registered 935,266 visitor arrivals, up by 9.9 percent year-on-year from the equivalent period in 2016. Mainland Chinese visitors accounted for 70.9 percent of the overall arrivals in that holiday period, according to official data.
China’s State Council has designated the 2018 Chinese New Year festive period as running from today (February 15) to February 21, a Wednesday.
The Chinese New Year holiday is typically a busy period for Macau’s casinos, as thousands of mainland Chinese visitors flock to the city to test their luck for the New Year.
Investment analysts however have noted in previous commentary on Macau that there need not be a direct correlation between numbers of tourists to Macau and gaming spend in casinos. This is because research indicates that high-stakes play by a relatively small number of visitors is still an important component of the market.
Nonetheless, investors like to track Macau’s visitor numbers and gross gaming revenue performance during Chinese New Year, for clues to possible trends in the rest of the calendar year.
Most of the hotels in casino properties in Macau are likely to be sold out or close to full during the coming holiday period, according to data collated by GGRAsia.
On Wednesday, Ms Senna Fernandes said MGTO forecast hotel occupancy to be above 80 percent during the Chinese New Year period. “Our forecast is that it [the average hotel occupancy] will be above 85 percent and, in the busiest days … it can go above 90 percent,” she was quoted as saying.
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Spending on purchase of goods, commissions paid and customer rebates in Macau's gaming industry in 2018