Macau should develop a more diversified range of tourism products to attract greater numbers of business and family travellers, said Yao Jian, deputy director of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau.
Mr Yao added such restructuring of the visitor market would be on the assumption of maintaining the current number of visitors; i.e., approximately 30 million a year.
“We hope that on the basis of maintaining the number of visitor arrivals at the level of around 30 million [a year], the structure of these visitors can be changed so that there will be more visitors coming here under the Individual Visit Scheme [IVS], more convention and exhibition visitors and more coming here for a vacation with their families,” Mr Yao told local Chinese media on Saturday. He was speaking on the sidelines of the 9th Macao International Environmental Co-operation Forum and Exhibition.
“Even if there is no big growth to these 30 million visitors, the quality of them and the scale of their spending is an enhancement for Macau – and this is the most important [thing],” Mr Yao added.
The number of visitors arriving in Macau totalled 30.71 million for the full year of 2015, a drop by 2.6 percent year-on-year, official data show. Visitors from mainland China decreased by 4.0 percent year-on-year to 20.41 million. Such arrivals made up 66.5 percent of the annual total for the city.
In 2015, the number of mainland visitors travelling to Macau under the IVS system dropped by 0.5 percent year-on-year to 9.52 million. Of such IVS visitors, 71.2 percent came from neighbouring Guangdong province. Another of China’s wealthy provinces, Shanghai, provided 4.8 percent of Macau’s IVS visitors for the year according to Macau government data.
IVS tourists are described by investment analysts as generally the Macau visitor segment most valuable to local casino resorts due to their higher spending power compared to package tour visitors.
With effect from Friday, policy adjustments by the mainland authorities enable some among China’s millions of internal migrants – that do not have a household registration document (or “hukou” in Mandarin Chinese) in the city where they currently reside or work – to apply for an IVS permit in person via that host city. This new system is only available in cities above county level that issue residence permits to domestic migrant workers.
Asked to comment on this new practice, Mr Yao said its aim is to make it more convenient for mainland citizens, especially IVS tourists, to apply for travel permits to come to Hong Kong and Macau.
In a March 30 note, Deutsche Bank AG analyst Karen Tang described the new practice as “very mild” with “impact likely limited”, when the market had been looking for an expansion of the IVS system coverage from the current 49 eligible cities.
“We think this new procedure will benefit the millions of migrant workers in the Guangdong province. However, as this easier procedure has already been applied in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, we think the new procedure will only attract lower-end, often non-gambling, leisure visitors,” Ms Tang wrote.
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Chief executive of Macau gambling junket investor Tak Chun Group