The upcoming Labour-Day holiday season in mainland China appears to be offering little relief to Macau’s battered casino hotel businesses amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis according to data compiled by GGRAsia and commentary offered to us.
Almost all of Macau’s currently-operating casino hotel venues are offering only “regular day rates” for sleeping accommodation during the holiday break, based on information collated by GGRAsia from the respective official hotel booking websites. This suggested the venues were not making any special marketing effort for the vacation as they don’t expect much trade, according to remarks by a local travel trade group representative.
A raft of travel restrictions remain in place affecting travel in and out of Macau, although the city has had no new cases of Covid-19 infection for 21 days.
At Wednesday’s edition of the daily briefing on the local Covid-19 situation, Ma Chio Hong, a spokesperson for the city’s Public Security Police, the agency responsible for managing Macau’s border crossings, said no significant uptick in inward visitor numbers was expected for the holiday season, which China’s State Council has decreed will this year run from May 1 to May 5 inclusive.
Mr Ma said Macau had been receiving only a few hundred tourists per day in recent days, and the police expected similar numbers over the holiday season. In 2019 the statistical daily average was circa 108,000 tourist visitors per day, based on that year’s tally of 39.4 million arrivals as reported previously be the city’s Statistics and Census Service.
Cotai room availability and rates
As of Thursday afternoon, all 24 operating casino hotels across Macau peninsula and Cotai – a majority of them five-star properties – were all available for booking for the upcoming Labour Day holidays. According to data collated by GGRAsia the room rates offered were generally lower than the booking rates seen ahead of the same holiday period last year, when demand was far stronger.
The 24 casino hotels include: Hotel Grand Lisboa and Hotel Lisboa, located on Macau peninsula and promoted by SJM Holdings Ltd; MGM Macau and MGM Cotai, from MGM China Holdings Ltd; Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace, promoted by Wynn Macau Ltd; and Morpheus, The Countdown Hotel Macau, and Grand Hyatt Macau at City of Dreams, Macau, promoted by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, as well as that group’s majority-owned Cotai property Studio City and its Taipa casino hotel Altira.
The others were: Galaxy Hotel, Banyan Tree Macau, Hotel Okura Macau, the Ritz-Carlton, Macau, and JW Marriott Hotel Macau, as well as Broadway Macau, respectively part of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s Cotai portfolio of hotel properties; Galaxy Entertainment’s StarWorld Hotel on Macau peninsula; and the accommodation at Sands Macao, the Venetian Macao, the Parisian Macao, the Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel Cotai Central, the St Regis Macao, Cotai Central and Four Seasons Hotel Macao, all part of the casino resorts promoted by Sands China Ltd.
Macau hotel room rates for Labour-Day season were “not much different from April,” Andy Wu Keng Kuong, president of Macau Travel Industry Council, told GGRAsia. “They are practically regular day rates,” he added.
“As things stand now,” it was “meaningless” to cut room rates to attract clients “because even with a big discount in the room rate, you don’t have many customers that can come here due to the travel restrictions,” Mr Wu stated. “Macau can only expect the start of a turnaround in the hospitality business once the quarantine measures are lifted and Individual Visit [Scheme (IVS)] visa issuance resumes.”
A number of brokerages has estimated that tourism to Macau might start in phases, beginning with some travellers from mainland China under the so-called IVS scheme.
Macau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said last week that once the pandemic was deemed under control in China, his government would ask the country’s central authorities to consider restarting IVS visa issuance and to expand the number of mainland feeder cities involved in the programme.
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"The travel impediments [in mainland China] will lead to reduced visitation into Macau for the next few weeks at least, with Chinese New Year visitation being impacted"
Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd