The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is currently “not holding negotiations” with the authorities in mainland China regarding the resumption of visas for travellers coming to Macau. So said the director of MGTO, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, in comments to the local media reported on Monday.
While most mainland residents face no restrictions on entry to Macau in relation to Covid-19, the mainland authorities have not yet restarted the exit visa systems – for either independent travel or tour groups – that are most commonly used for mainlanders to visit Macau. The Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) was reportedly suspended in late January, as part of Covid-19 containment measures, with tour group visas paused some time prior to IVS ones.
A return of IVS visas had been mentioned by industry insiders as a key element in Macau’s casino market recovery.
“Since July 15, they’ve resumed tour groups between provinces, but they are limited to mainland China and do not include Macau,” said Ms Senna Fernandes.
She added regarding the outlook for large-scale mainlander travel to Macau: “Currently, we are all waiting. I hope that Macau can convey confidence to all the different authorities [in the mainland] and that they consider resuming [the issuance of] visas.”
The official said additionally that MGTO would restructure its Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan, taking into consideration the trading environment of the tourism industry.
“After the pandemic, there will be major changes on the considerations that people have when travelling,” said Ms Senna Fernandes. “We believe there will be big changes in different parts of the world, therefore, the markets we thought were important, might already not be that relevant. We need to do more detailed studies on this [subject].”
The MGTO director had recently announced that the body’s budget had been cut by 35 percent this year, to about MOP1.5 billion (US$187.9 million), according to public broadcaster TDM. Ms Senna Fernandes told the media outlet that MGTO’s budget should not increase by more than 20 percent in 2021 compared to this year, as the government will be more cautious regarding its spending due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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"We have estimated that on average, the [daily] visitor arrivals for this year’s Chinese New Year break could turn out to be a bit weaker than for the Christmas holiday period"
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes
Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office