A Macau delegate to a key advisory body to the Chinese government has tabled a proposal in Beijing that Macau should waive the need for visitors to produce a ‘negative’ Covid-19 test certificate, as long as the individuals concerned have proof they have been vaccinated against the disease.
Alex Lao Nga Wong is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which on Wednesday concluded its latest sitting in the Chinese capital, as part of the so-called ‘Two Sessions’; the other being that for the National People’s Congress (NPC).
Mr Lao, who has a travel agency business in Macau, suggested that such waiving of a test certificate for vaccinated travellers could be mutual for trips either side of the Macau-mainland boundary.
Such steps could “revitalise Macau’s tourism businesses and economy”, he was cited as saying in Beijing by Macau’s Chinese-language media.
Some health experts – including Macau health officials – have said a vaccination scheme does not necessarily remove the need for testing of travellers for Covid-19 infection.
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, had mentioned on Sunday – as cited by mainland media – the possibility of some form of mutual recognition between China and other, unidentified, jurisdictions, regarding citizens’ Covid-19 vaccination record and health status.
The head of the Macao Government Tourism Office said on Tuesday that the city was seeking further guidance from the mainland China authorities regarding a so-called vaccination passport programme announced by the latter, to enable people to travel more easily outside mainland boundaries.
Francis Lui Yiu Tung, vice chairman of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd and also a CPPCC delegate, said last week he anticipated that the expansion in mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong of Covid-19 vaccination programmes would have a positive impact in the second half this year, on the outlook for the Macau tourism market.
Mainland China is presently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau. But mainlanders currently need a ‘negative’ test certificate for Covid-19, with a seven-day validity, in order to enter Macau.
Mr Lao – along with the 12 Macau delegates to the NPC – also urged the mainland authorities to resume automated services for processing applications under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) exit-visa initiative. IVS is used by independent travellers from the mainland that wish to come to Macau.
The entrepreneur additionally suggested the central government should once again permit the sale online and offline to mainland consumers, of so-called “bundled” trips to Macau – i.e. flight and hotel in a single package. Such sales were suspended previously. Prior to Chinese New Year on February 12, there were reports of an uptick in Covid-19 infection cases on the mainland. According to media reports, the situation seems now to have stabilised.
In the context of Macau tourism, “package tours” are typically conducted via overland transport, and feature lower-value visitors escorted by a guide. Such trips also remain suspended for now.
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Andrew Lee and David Katz
Analysts at brokerage Jefferies LLC