Macau tour iteneraries for the returning group-travel trade from mainland China have been redesigned so that the visitors stay longer and yield more value for the city’s small businesses, as well as its big resorts, said a local travel trade representative in comments to GGRAsia.
The city’s tourism bureau separately told GGRAsia in an email that it was still expecting group tours from the Chinese mainland to restart in November, with neighbouring Guangdong province supplying some of the first escorted groups, and selected provinces to be added later. Such groups have been suspended since early 2020, coinciding with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The mainland China authorities will from Tuesday (November 1) reactivate the use of electronic processing on applications for exit visas to visit Macau either for individual travel or as part of a group, China’s National Immigration Administration announced on Monday.
Macau is in the midst of three days of mandatory home-testing for every citizen, following a number of Covid-19 cases. Eight had been confirmed as of Monday morning. Currently to cross the Macau border with Zhuhai in Guangdong province, a Covid-19 test certificate with 24-hour validity is required.
Prior to those developments, Wong Fai, president of Macau Leisure Tourism Services Innovation Association, explained to GGRAsia that the restart of group tours was a chance for Macau to move up the value chain in that segment.
“For the Guangdong package tour travellers, the [local travel agencies’] design for their itinerary is generally inclusive of a stay ranging from two nights to four nights,” he stated. Similar package tours would eventually apply for group travellers from Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, and Shanghai.
“That is quite different from the package tour model in pre-Covid 19 times – usually involving a joint trip to both Hong Kong and Macau – where most of those mainland travellers were not staying in Macau at all,” Mr Wong added.
Itineraries for the returning tour trade “include trips to Macau’s integrated resorts, food and beverage outlets and some community attractions,” the trade representative explained to GGRAsia.
Tour redesign has taken into account elements featured in the city’s “Stay, Dine and See Macao” progamme, an economic-stimulus initiative begun in 2021, to encourage Macau locals to support the city’s tourism market amid Covid-19 disruptions, Mr Wong noted.
“The [tour group] products are set out in such a way that we hope the travellers can experience more of the city, and in turn help the local retailers and other small and medium-sized enterprises in our community,” he said.
On October 26, Macau’s Health Bureau announced Covid-19 prevention guidelines for tour group organisers. They stated it would be necessary to limit the number of people on each tour, but did not mention any cap.
The health authority also said tour group participants would need to maintain social distancing and stay masked during activities. Tour guides will be asked to take Covid-19 tests on a periodic basis.
Mainland China is the only place to have a largely-quarantine free travel arrangement with Macau. Only mainlanders from so-called high-risk places for Covid-19 infection within the Chinese mainland are required to undergo quarantine-on-arrival in Macau.
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