Macau has seen an 85-percent year-on-year decline in its tourist arrivals for 2020, said the city’s Public Security Police (PSP) in a Tuesday release. The 2020 full-year inbound-tourist tally was nearly 5.92 million, according to the police. The data comes against the background disruption to travel and tourism around the world, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Public Security Police monitor the city’s boundary crossings and handle immigration matters.
As noted in the release, the police said that the flow of inbound and outbound travellers started to see a “rapid decline” starting from the end of January last year, when several measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 were introduced.
The measures included a halt by mainland China’s authorities in the issuing of tourist visas for visits to Macau and Hong Kong, starting on January 29, 2020.
Other travel-restriction steps included: a Macau-government entry ban on “all non-local residents”, – including otherwise-authorised migrant workers – with effect from March 18; and the quarantine measure imposed by Guangdong authorities on people entering the province from Macau, and that came into effect on March 27, PSP stated in its release. Guangdong’s 14-day quarantine requirement for arrivals from Macau was lifted on July 15.
Macau saw a “record-low” in visitor arrivals in March last year, the police commentary said. On March 29, only 233 visitors entered, compared with a daily average of more than 107,000 for the full year-2019.
Since the March low, the figures generally showed incremental improvement in terms of mainland visitors, the only consumer group currently entitled – in most cases – to quarantine-free entry to Macau.
Starting in August, applications for Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) visas to go to Macau were resumed in Guangdong province. Quarantine-free travel to Macau by Chinese tourists had later been widened to other mainland provinces and cities, from September 23, the police announcement noted.
During December, the daily average of tourist arrivals was 21,000, a 78.5 percent decrease year-on-year, the Public Security Police noted in their release.
Regarding February’s upcoming Chinese New Year break – traditionally a peak period for trade at the city’s casino resorts and tourism businesses – the local tourism authority said on Wednesday that visitor arrivals for the week-long holiday could be “lower” than had previously been anticipated.
China’s State Council has designated February 11 to 17 inclusive, as the Chinese New Year holiday period for 2021.
Hoi Io Meng, deputy director of Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), told local media on Wednesday that the government was aware of mainland China having “tightened” countermeasures regarding Covid-19.
Guangdong government officials recently called on the province’s residents to spend their Chinese New Year break within provincial boundaries, as a precaution against the risk of spreading Covid-19. A number of other Chinese provinces and cities have issued similar advice to their inhabitants.
MGTO’s Mr Hoi noted in comments to the Macau media on Wednesday: “Mainland China has advised its people not to travel during the Chinese New Year holiday, and for that we believe that the tourist arrivals [for that period] could be fewer than what we had expected before.”
He did not offer any numbers on either the tourism bureau’s previous expectation or any revised estimate.
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