Macau recorded a total of 529,000 visitor arrivals during the Labour Day holiday period (between April 30 and May 2), show official data from the local police.
The figure was down by 1.23 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
May 1 is known in Greater China as Labour Day, being a statutory public holiday. In mainland China, workers are entitled to two extra days off related to the Labour Day observance. This year, the Labour Day holiday period in mainland China spanned from April 30 to May 2.
Mainland China is the main source of gamblers to Macau’s casino industry.
Despite the decline in visitor arrivals, early indicators point to a positive performance of the city’s gaming sector during the Labour Day period, according to some investment analysts and casino executives.
“[Casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd] management noted strong volumes across its portfolio during the recently completed May (Labour Day) long weekend holiday,” Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd stated in a Tuesday note. The brokerage was citing comments by SJM Holdings’ executives in a conference call following the firm’s first quarter 2016 result announcement.
“This comports with what we saw: namely a significant uptick in gaming volumes across Macau,” Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen added.
Visitor arrivals to Macau during the Labour Day period were negatively affected by problems on Saturday with the computer-controlled automated clearance system at Macau’s border checkpoints. At some border checkpoints, the glitch led to delays of several hours for travellers, according to local media reports.
“Thankfully, this only had a very marginal impact on April 30 GGR [gross gaming revenue] as the problem happened in the evening, which is peak ‘return to China’ time,” said Mr Govertsen in a Sunday note.
Sterne Agee CRT analyst David Bain said in a note that day: “While the Labour Day patron is unlikely the ‘type’ of gambler that will greatly impact GGR beyond estimates, we believe it demonstrates [mass-market] mainlanders’ continued… attraction to Macau – though also perhaps a signal that we are reverting back to more meaningful impacts from holiday periods.”
Visitor arrivals to Macau in the first quarter of 2016 totalled 7.46 million, up marginally by 0.6 percent year-on-year, show data from the city’s Statistics and Census Service. Tourists from mainland China accounted for 4.94 million of the overall visitor arrivals, a decrease of 1.7 percent compared to the prior-year period.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China