The average occupancy rate across all Macau hotel categories during 2015 dropped by 6.0 percentage points year-on-year to 80.5 percent, according to data released on Thursday by the city’s Statistics and Census Service.
But the data for December showed the rate of year-on-year decline in market-wide occupancy levels moderating. That month the average occupancy rate of hotels and guesthouses was 82.8 percent, down by 2.3 percentage points year-on-year.
Five-star hotels had the highest occupancy rates in Macau during calendar year 2015, with average utilisation at 82.2 percent, but that was nonetheless down by 5.3 percentage points year-on-year. The steepest fall in occupancy rates was in the four-star category, which saw an 8.6 percentage point decline year-on-year, to 79.2 percent.
The average length of stay of guests in 2015 increased by 0.1 of a night to 1.5 nights. Overnight visitors staying in registered hotels accounted for 68.9 percent of all overnight visitors in 2015, a rise of 0.1 of a percentage point judged year-on-year.
At least one investment analyst has referred to a Macau operator “retooling” its tourism offer, in the context of Macau widening its appeal to mass-market tourists. That has been seen as useful in the wake of China’s anti-graft campaign and economic slowdown. Some analysts have linked the decline in Macau’s VIP gambling to those external factors.
Five-star rooms are typically the category used by Macau casino resorts to accommodate VIP gamblers. Such accommodation may – depending on the value to the house of the VIP gambler and/or the individual casino’s arrangement with the junket bringing in the player – be offered to the player on a complimentary basis.
The downturn in the high roller market saw casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) from the VIP segment fall 39.9 percent year-on-year in 2015.
Five-star rooms accounted for 21,000 – or 66 percent – of the 32,000 hotel rooms registered in Macau as of December 31, according to the statistics service.
Guests in five-star accommodation made up nearly 6.2 million – or nearly 59 percent – of the approximately 10.5 million hotel guests recorded in Macau during 2015, said the statistics service. Guests in four-star category accommodation made up 2.8 million – or 27 percent – of all hotel guests in 2015.
During the year, the number of guests of hotels and guesthouses decreased by 2.1 percent year-on-year, mainly due to a 3.7 percent drop in guests from mainland China, showed the official data. Hotel guests from South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan increased by 4.1 percent, 14.3 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.
There were 106 hotels and guesthouses operating at the end of December 2015, up by eight judged year-on-year. Five of the new properties were five-star hotels and three were four-star hotels.
The number of guest rooms increased by 4,300 – or 15.6 percent – year-on-year in 2015, to 32,000. The number of five-star rooms rose by 2,200 and those for four-star accommodation by 2,100.
The number of new-to-market four-star rooms in Macau might have been lower during 2015. Studio City, a casino resort that opened on October 27, agreed with the government – in the words of Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, co-chairman and chief executive of the operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd – to “lower” the rating on its 1,600 hotel rooms from five-star to four-star.
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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