The pace of year-on-year decline in Macau tourism numbers amid China’s coronavirus emergency accelerated to 89 percent on Wednesday, the sixth day of the Chinese New Year festive season.
Cancellation – until at least February 6 – of a large number of inbound and outbound flights to Macau serving either mainland China or Taiwan, also suggested the authorities anticipated that inbound travel restrictions from the rest of China to Macau would extend into next month.
A senior executive at Las Vegas Sands Corp, the parent of Macau operator Sands China Ltd, said in a conference call on Wednesday that it might be “February or March” before the health alert was resolved.
It had been announced on Tuesday that authorities in mainland China – as part of efforts to prevent further spread of the coronavirus across the nation and beyond – had until further notice stopped issuing fresh individual travel visas for visits to Macau by mainland residents.
According to the most recent visitor data from the Macao Government Tourism Bureau, Wednesday brought only 21,584 visitors to the city.
The slump in arrivals from mainland China on Wednesday was 91.8 percent year-on-year compared to the 2019 lunar new year holiday season, equating this time to only 12,431 people.
The data meant that in the first six days of the latest period, there were only 243,204 tourist arrivals from all markets, a fall of 76.5 percent on the prior-year holiday period. The tally of arrivals from the mainland in the initial six days was 139,580, a decline of 81.7 percent.
Macau International Airport said on its website that – according to information supplied by its airline partners – as of Wednesday night, between the period of Thursday to February 6 inclusive – a total of circa 177 inbound flights from either the mainland or Taiwan, and circa 168 outbound services, had been cancelled.
Xiamen Airlines had also flagged that five inbound services it normally operated five days per week from mainland destinations were being cancelled between February 8 and February 29, this year being a leap year. Xiamen Airlines is also cancelling the equivalent outbound services between those dates.
Elsewhere, ferry operators to Macau indicated they were adjusting service frequencies to account for the decline in visitor numbers.
TurboJET – run by Shun Tak-China Travel Ship Management Ltd – said on its website that, with effect from Wednesday, sailings between the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal at Sheung Wan in Hong Kong and Macau’s Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal would be reduced to every 30 minutes during the day, and to one per hour between 11pm and 1am the following morning.
The HZMBus.com website, which lists information about the shuttle bus services travelling between the Macau boundary and the Hong Kong boundary of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai- Macau Bridge, said that, as of 6am on Thursday, services were being reduced “in order to control the spread of novel coronavirus”. The website said the move was at the behest of the Macau and Hong Kong governments.
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”Our Macau operations ... are now being gradually reopened in accordance with certain limitations imposed by the Macau government to safeguard public health and in line with demand”
Macau casino operator Sands China