The slight easing recently of Macau’s restrictions on inbound travel is unlikely to bring any “meaningful” uplift to the city’s visitor volume and to gross gaming revenue (GGR), said brokerage Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong Ltd in a note.
“The 48-hour NAT [nucleic acid test] requirement,” for travel inbound to the casino hub “via Zhuhai-Macau checkpoints is still quite restrictive,” stated analyst Terry Ng in a Monday memo, referring to visitor traffic through the neighbouring city in mainland China’s Guangdong province.
Macau has made a number of modest steps recently in the direction of travel easing, but it is also subject to other factors, including Covid-19 outbreaks in mainland China – the city’s main source market for tourists – and countermeasures applied on that side of the border regarding outbound trips to Macau.
Nonetheless, starting from August 18, those people eligible for entry to Macau – arriving in the city via either Hong Kong, Taiwan or overseas places – are no longer required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, according to a Macau Health Bureau announcement. Since Monday (August 22), all foreigners authorised to be in mainland China can enter Macau via the mainland, provided that they have stayed on the mainland for at least 10 days prior to entering the city, the bureau also announced.
But these easing measures are, however, unlikely to generate “meaningful incremental visitation or GGR” for Macau, said Daiwa’s Mr Ng.
A reason is that the city is still imposing a mandatory 7-day quarantine in a designated facility, plus a three-day period of health ‘self-management’ for such arrivals.
During the three days of self-management, the individual’s Macau-government electronic health code would be ‘yellow’, meaning they could not enter certain places including government offices, restaurants, and leisure facilities.
Mr Ng observed that in any case, “the Macau government does not have much ‘wiggle room’ in terms of policy as ‘zero-Covid’ is still very much the status-quo policy, in our view,” for China as a whole.
“The [Macau] GGR recovery has so far been within expectations… Some operators’ management noted they have observed visitor traffic picking up meaningfully throughout August to near early-June levels after Zhuhai and Macau lifted quarantine measures in early August,” Mr Ng stated.
He added that daily cross-border movement by visitors had “picked up to the low 20,000s,” but added this was “still circa 50 percent lower compared to the first half of 2022-level”.
The brokerage said it maintained its forecast for Macau’s average daily gaming revenue for August within a range of MOP50 million [US$6.19 million] to MOP80 million, likely to be at “top end of estimates”.
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