The volume of visitors to Macau might “start getting back to April-May levels by October,” suggested a Wednesday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd, issued after Macau reported August gross gaming revenue (GGR) down 47 percent month-on-month.
A number of investment analysts had previously commented that August GGR was negatively affected by tighter inbound travel rules for the city, coinciding with detection among four locals of the more infectious Delta-variant Covid-19.
Macau recorded a total of 794,819 visitor arrivals in April, and 866,063 in May, the two highest monthly tallies since the end of January 2020.
The city had 165,500 visitor arrivals for the five-day holiday period surrounding Labour Day on May 1, meaning there was a daily average of 33,100 arrivals, according to data from the city’s Public Security Police, the force responsible for running Macau’s immigration checkpoints.
Sanford Bernstein said in its Wednesday memo – citing its own research and Macau government data – that average daily border movement in both directions by visitors for the period August 23 to 29, was about 35,000 instances, up 7 percent week-on-week compared to August 16 to 22.
Macau inbound travel rules for land crossings from Guangdong province – regarding the validity period for Covid-19 tests – had been relaxed to seven days, from 48 hours, as of August 25.
Sanford Bernstein analysts Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Kelsey Zhu said in their Wednesday note: “Visitation and GGR have experienced the beginning of recovery in the latter part of the month as the travel impediments have been gradually relaxed.”
In addition, the Chinese authorities had been “reducing travel restrictions in many areas after passing the peak of the most recent Covid[-19] outbreak” on the mainland.
Separately, Ctrip, one of China’s biggest online travel platforms operated by Trip.com Group, issued on Friday a report on booking trends for Macau travel products, covering the first half of 2021. The report was made available via a post on social media platform WeChat.
It indicated Macau had been a destination appealing to “young travellers with high spending power”. The posting did not give more information on the socioeconomic background of such travellers.
But it said people born in the period ranging from the 1990s to early 2000s occupied 30 percent of Ctrip’s customers that booked Macau hotels in the first half of this year.
Ctrip also said it had seen a rise in the number of bookings for Macau-related tourism products since the city announced its easing, to seven days, of the validity period for Covid-19 test certificates for land-based travel from Guangdong to Macau.
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Alvin Chau Cheok Wa
Chief executive of privately-held VIP junket business Suncity Group