Hotels in Macau’s casino resorts are likely to be near full during the coming Golden Week holiday surrounding China’s National Day on October 1. But rooms bought via advanced booking were commanding a lower price judged year-on-year, according to some local travel trade bodies and some investment analysts.
Occupancy levels for the city’s casino hotels appeared likely to be strong for Golden Week, according to a Tuesday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in Hong Kong. That view was supported in commentary given to GGRAsia by two local travel trade chambers: the Macau Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association and the Travel Industry Council of Macau.
It is expected that Macau’s casino resorts will have the highest hotel occupancy rates in the local market during the period: in the range of 80 percent to 90 percent, the two trade chambers separately predicted.
“I think the casino resorts here will attract a stronger occupancy compared to the non-casino hotels for the upcoming holiday period, because they [the casino operators] have done a lot of promotions and discount packages in advance,” said Andy Wu Keng Kuong, president of the Travel Industry Council of Macau.
“The opening of the new casino resorts in Cotai has attracted the curiosity of some mainland Chinese visitors, especially those that travel under the Individual Visit Scheme [IVS],” stated Mr Wu. “…I believe that will boost the IVS visitors’ incentives to look at Macau as an outbound destination,” he added.
In the second half of this year, Macau has seen the launch of two new Cotai casino resorts. Wynn Palace, a 1,700-room facility promoted by Wynn Macau Ltd, opened on August 22. The Parsian Macao, the latest Macau gaming and entertainment resort from Sands China Ltd – and which adds 3,000 hotel rooms and suites to the local market – opened on September 13.
GGRAsia respectively approached Sands China and Wynn Macau seeking comment on the volume of advanced Golden Week bookings for rooms at the Parisian Macao and Wynn Palace, but had not received replies from the companies by the time this story went online.
Pressured room rates
Given the new casino resort attractions that have been introduced to the city, Macau is likely to experience only a mild year-on-year increase in visitor volume from mainland China during the Golden Week holiday, the Travel Industry Council’s representative suggested.
“Since last year, we’ve seen a double-digit decrease in the number of Chinese package tour visitors that came here, and the trend is continuing,” Mr Wu said. “I’d expect the overall number of Chinese visitors coming here during the Golden Week to be similar to last year, or at most we’ll only see a slight increase,” he noted.
Kenny Cheung Kin Chung, vice president of the Macau Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association, told GGRAsia he believed average room rates in Macau would remain under pressure, given the significant increase in hotel room supply following the opening of new casino resorts on Cotai.
“It’s possible that we can see average hotel room rates here drop by 10 percent [year-on-year] for Golden Week,” Mr Cheung stated. Room rates at Macau four-star and three-star hotels that don’t have casino facilities have been falling, in response to the increasingly competitive rates offered by the city’s casino resorts, he added.
In a note issued on Monday, brokerage Wells Fargo Securities LLC said its proprietary, forward room rate survey indicated prices in Macau were likely to be down 50 percent year-on-year across the market during Golden Week.
“Surveyed rates during Golden Week haven’t ‘spiked’ that much relative to September and the rest of October and November. This is important as the big holidays and ‘compression periods’ have become periods of relative strength as the market has turned down,” wrote analyst Cameron McKnight.
An estimated 589 million Chinese will travel overseas and domestically for leisure during the upcoming holiday period, according to a report by the China Tourism Academy quoted by Bloomberg News on Friday.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings