A diminishing spend per head on gambling by visitors to Macau, could actually be a good sign, as it would indicate the return to the city of general tourism, suggested an analyst at Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd, in a Monday podcast and a recent memo by the institution.
“In December 2019 and January 2020, before [the onset of] Covid-19, gaming spend per Chinese visitor was running anywhere around US$1,300,” noted the institution’s Praveen Choudhary, citing average figures based on Macau government data about reported tourist numbers and about casino gross gaming revenue (GGR), as well as proprietary research by Morgan Stanley.
He added that as the number of visitors to the city dropped between March and July, coinciding with regional restrictions relating to Covid-19, average spending per capita of Macau visitors “skyrocketed”, at one point reaching as much as US$15,000.
“We think that is because non-gamblers completely stopped coming,” Mr Choudhary explained.
Macau has seen its visitor volume improve recently, to around 10,000 arrivals per day. But the city’s casino GGR has been hovering around -95 percent year-on-year, every month since March.
Visitor volume “and GGR data, definitely look disconnected,” noted Mr Choudhary. “But we think it will go together from here onwards,” he added.
In a August 27 memo, Morgan Stanley estimated that August daily GGR per visitor from mainland China – the only place that can currently send tourists to Macau without the need for them to undergo 14 days of quarantine in the city – was about US$1,140.
This was “very similar” to the pre-Covid-19 period of December 2019, and January 2020, stated Morgan Stanley in the memo. The institution suggested this is a move toward a “normal ratio of gaming and non-gaming visitors”.
The reinstatement of China’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) in stages, from August into September, was likely to be a factor supporting that, the memo also noted.
The Macau government is looking to boost the number of incoming mainland Chinese visitors with the launch on Tuesday of a spending-stimulus scheme. Such scheme is being run with assistance from Chinese online commerce brands Tencent, and Alibaba; as well as the city’s flag-carrier airline, Air Macau Co Ltd.
In a Monday press statement, the Macau government said it had budgeted about MOP400 million (US$50 million) on the spending-stimulus scheme.
Under it, the Macau government is disbursing via the social media platform WeChat, MOP290-million in so-called consumption vouchers, to tourists from mainland China, reported the country’s state-run news agency Xinhua, citing remarks from the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO).
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”It will take many years, possibly three… to five years for… international visitor arrivals to return to 2019 pre-Covid-19 levels”
Chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board