Macau might see in 2022 “10 million” tourist visits, which would amount to a “breakthrough” in the city’s fortunes, and would in likelihood be linked to easing of travel restrictions with Hong Kong and mainland China, said the head of the Macao Government Tourism Office, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, in comments to the local press on Saturday.
Currently, mainland China is the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau. The city had 6.08-million tourist arrivals for the first ten months of this year, up 32.2 percent on the same period of 2020.
Macau has recently seen a pickup in tourist arrivals, helped by the easing of the Covid-19 test rules required for people travelling between mainland China and Macau, said the MGTO boss on the sidelines of a Saturday event.
With effect from November 23, people intending to travel from Macau to the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, in mainland China, are required to hold a nucleic acid test certificate issued within seven days – instead of the previously-set 48 hours – proving they are ‘negative’ for Covid-19 infection.
From November 24, the validity period for a ‘negative’ Covid-19 nucleic acid test result for air passengers inbound to the city from the mainland, had been raised back to seven days, from a previous 48-hours validity.
“We really hope that by the end of this year,” the city will have had “over 7 million” visits during 2021, Ms Senna Fernandes remarked on Saturday.
Relaxation of travel rules for Hong Kong-Macau journeys could give a further boost to Macau’s tourist arrivals, and help the city reach a “breakthrough” level of “10 million” tourist arrivals in the full-year 2022, the tourism bureau boss added.
Anticipated easing of travel with Hong Kong and further easing of mainland China-Macau travel were factors in the Macau government’s projection of reaching MOP130-billion (US$16.2-billion) in casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for fiscal year 2022, said the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, in remarks to the city’s legislators in a Friday plenary session of Macau’s Legislative Assembly.
“We are optimistic that by next year, we will see a higher [Covid-19] vaccination rate,” in Macau, “and that our Covid-19 prevention measures” would be standardised with “those of mainland China and Hong Kong,” said Secretary Lei.
He added: “By then, we will also be more mature in our response measures” to the pandemic. These factors would assist improvement of travel ties between Macau and mainland China and Hong Kong, stated the Secretary.
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”There’s been a 20 percent or 30 percent increase in our testing staff to handle globally the amount of extra work that we’ve got, and the Philippines and Macau have definitely contributed to that overall growth”
Chief commercial officer of testing and certification firm GLI