Cheng Wai Tong, deputy director of the Macau Government Tourist Office, expects an increase in the number of tourists visiting the city during the National Day Golden Week Holiday, from October 1 to October 7.
Without providing an official forecast, Mr Cheng told reporters that the growth in the number of visitors during the Golden Week period usually is in line with the average increase seen throughout the year.
Macau visitor numbers were up 7.5 percent year-on-year in August to more than 3 million tourists, a new monthly all-time high, according to official data released this week. In the first eight months of 2014, tourist numbers reached 21.1 million, up by 7.9 percent from a year earlier.
Last year, over 1.4 million people visited Macau during the Golden Week. Based on an 8-percent growth forecast, Macau could welcome more than 1.5 million tourists during October’s weeklong holiday period.
The number of mainland China tourists, the largest and most important source of visitors to Macau, increased by 13.3 percent in August and is now up 14.2 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2014. Most Chinese visitors came from Guangdong province, which accounted for 42.4 percent of total Chinese visitors from January to August.
“We do not believe the implementation of modest restrictions on transit visas had a material impact on visitation,” said a note from Union Gaming Research LLC on Wednesday.
Macau tightened the rules for mainland Chinese passport holders who transit in the city since July 1.
A few gaming analysts have said that high-frequency players, especially those from Guangdong province, have been restricted from visiting Macau so often by the tighter transit visa rules. That, the analysts said, is taking its toll on mass revenue growth.
“We have heard from various industry insiders that certain junket agents have been impacted by these restrictions and this could be having a small impact on current VIP trends,” Union Gaming analyst Robert Shore wrote in Wednesday’s note.
While hotel demand appears solid for the upcoming Golden Week, analysts do not expect the holiday period to boost casino revenue in October, as junket liquidity remains tight and high-rollers shy away from Macau’s gaming tables.
“The feedback from front-end junket agents is that some super high-end Chinese players (who are typically more sensitive to macro and political environment) have already decided not to visit Macau during the National Day Golden Week in light of the recent anti-corruption fight in China,” stated a note from Credit Suisse AG.
“Therefore, despite the good advanced booking of hotel rooms we saw, they are likely to be occupied by mid- to lower-end players now,” analysts Kenneth Fong and Isis Wong wrote in a note this week. “The year-on-year comparison for October is tough and we expect October gaming revenue to fall by about 15 percent to 18 percent year-on-year,” they added.
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”The [VIP and premium-mass] segments are following very different trajectories, and we would expect that to continue for the time being”
Chief operating officer of Macau casino operator Sands China