Tourism authorities in Macau say they do not have any forecast regarding possible negative impact on visitor arrivals to the city, of calls by mainland China officials for people on the mainland to avoid travelling during their February Chinese New Year (CNY) break.
The advice by mainland China health authorities – including the National Health Commission – comes as a precaution against spreading Covid-19, at a time when the number of new cases in several Chinese provinces has been increasing.
During a regular press conference on Monday regarding Macau’s Covid-19 situation, a representative from the Macao Government Tourism Office said the body had “not come up with any estimate” on how advice for people in the mainland to stay in their area of residence during the Chinese New Year holiday, might possibly impact visitor volumes to Macau in that period. The tourism bureau’s Lau Fong Chi (pictured) added that Chinese New Year was still one month away, and therefore the overall situation could still change.
“The most important thing is to keep the pandemic under control,” Ms Lau said.
Macau’s health and labour authorities have separately called on locals and non-resident workers to avoid unnecessary travel during the Chinese New Year period, as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. Some large companies in Macau – including casino operators – have issued notices to their staff asking them to remain in the city during the holiday period, citing public health concerns.
Macau has recorded no new cases of Covid-19, for 200 days.
China’s State Council has designated February 11 to 17 inclusive as the Chinese New Year holiday period for 2021. The week-long break – linked annually to the lunar calendar and also known as the spring “Golden Week” – is typically a peak period for travel in China, both for family reunion and leisure purposes. The holiday is a busy period for Macau’s casino resorts and the city’s tourism trade.
From September 23, China’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) exit visa system was fully reinstated for mainland residents wishing to visit Macau as independent travellers. The return of IVS coincided with some improvement in Macau tourism numbers. The mainland is currently the only place to have a travel bubble with Macau that is mostly based on a quarantine-free approach.
On Friday, a senior official representing the health authority in mainland China’s Guangdong called on the public in the province of more than 100 million people, to spend their February Chinese New Year break within its boundaries, as a precaution against the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Visitors from Guangdong province made up nearly 60 percent of Macau’s mainland Chinese visitors for the first 11 months of 2020, according to latest data available from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service.
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"The most worrying [thing] is whether [mainland] China will again tighten the issuance of travel visas [for visits to Macau]"
Luiz Lam Kai Kuong
Macau junket investor