Macau has been receiving daily on average approximately “2,000” tourists following a relaxation of quarantine arrangements for travel to Macau’s neighbouring Chinese mainland province Guangdong, compared to “a few hundred” daily before, said on Friday a senior Macau official.
But Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), described the improved daily tally as still “low” relative to the numbers before the Covid-19 crisis.
She was speaking in an interview with the Chinese-language radio service of the city’s public broadcaster TDM.
The relaxation of quarantine arrangements for travel from Macau to Guangdong came into effect on Wednesday (July 15).
Mainlanders had mostly not needed to undergo any form of quarantine to enter Macau, but they had been subject to a 14-day quarantine rule when going back via Guangdong. Investment analysts said that had acted as a deterrent for people to come to Macau in the first place.
Nonetheless, it was also announced on Monday all would-be customers of Macau casinos would from Wednesday need a certificate showing they had recently tested negative for Covid-19. A number of analysts said in commentary on the changes, that obstacles remained to large-scale tourism.
On Friday Ms Senna Fernandes suggested it might take a “relatively long time” to see Macau’s inbound tourism recover to pre- Covid-19 pandemic levels.
Mainland Chinese have been – since the time of Macau market liberalisation and China’s further opening up, at the start of the current century – a major source for Macau’s inbound tourists.
In 2019, the city had over 39 million visitors, nearly 71 percent of them from mainland China, according to data from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service.
Analysts say that until China once again issues exit visas to visit Macau under the country’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS), it will be hard to get a major ramp up of gross gaming revenue (GGR). IVS allows mainland residents from selected cities to travel independently to Macau and some other places.
Macau’s tourism bureau has nonetheless been working on new travel campaigns to be aimed at mainland China consumers, focusing on promoting Macau as a “safe” city, said Ms Senna Fernandes in her comments to the public broadcaster.
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"The most worrying [thing] is whether [mainland] China will again tighten the issuance of travel visas [for visits to Macau]"
Luiz Lam Kai Kuong
Macau junket investor