Macau has reduced to five days, from seven, the permitted stay for mainland Chinese passport holders who transit in the city. The new rules will be effective from July 1, the police said on Monday.
Current Macau immigration rules allow mainland passport holders to stay in the territory up to seven days if they use Macau as a transit to other destinations.
The move is aimed at deterring some mainlanders from deliberately circumventing the existing entry requirements to Macau.
In April, China Central Television (CCTV) revealed that travel agencies in Zhuhai and Shenzhen were suspected of assisting tourists from the mainland to bypass the normal visa application procedures to visit both SARs. The agencies would sell overseas trips that would be afterwards cancelled once the tourist entered Macau or Hong Kong. The Macau government said in May it was liaising with mainland authorities to prevent people abusing the policy.
About 2.08 million mainlanders visited Macau bypassing normal visa application procedures in 2013, Macau’s Cabinet of the Secretary for Security said in May. Official figures show 2.64 million mainlanders entered Macau in transit in 2013 but only 20.8 percent actually travelled to an overseas destination.
Mainland passport holders breaching the new transit rules will be granted only one day of stay if they come to Macau in transit for a second time within 60 days, the police said in a statement.
If a same person claims to use Macau as a transit point for a third time within 60 days after failing to travel to a third destination in previous times, he or she will be banned from entering the city for a period of 60 days.
Analysts have said the impact of the measure on casino gross gaming revenues should be limited, stressing that a low single-digit percentage of visitors is likely at risk of being affected by the new rules.
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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