Macau’s visitor arrival tally for August had maintained year-on-year growth despite concerns from the city’s travel industry that inbound group tours might be negatively affected by months of street protests in neighbouring Hong Kong.
The information was disclosed by the head of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, in comments to local media on Wednesday on the sidelines of a public event. Macau’s August visitor-arrival official numbers will be issued later this month by the city’s Statistics and Census Service.
Research suggests many visitors to Hong Kong make a side trip to Macau. That has been made easier and cheaper since the opening last October of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) Bridge. But a number of travel authorities overseas has issued safety advisory warnings for Hong Kong in the light of the recent street scenes in Macau’s neighbouring Special Administrative Region.
Ms Senna Fernandes said her office recognised that the Hong Kong protests – that started during the summer – had raised fears in the Macau travel sector of a “drastic drop” in Macau-bound package tour numbers during the autumn season.
But Macau’s tourism boss said one antidote to any market risk posed by two-city tours, might be to market new package tour products with Macau as a sole destination. The city’s government has long wanted to increase the average length of stay of overnight visitors, who are generally worth more to the local economy than are day trippers, according to research.
“We can cooperate [with the travel industry] to promote this kind of new [package tour] product in neighbouring regions, especially within the [Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau] Greater Bay area, or the other markets that are connected to here by direct flights,” said Ms Senna Fernandes. She was referring latterly to a Chinese government initiative to link the economies and people of key cities around the Pearl River Delta.
Macau’s July visitor tally reached 3.53 million, 16.3 percent up on a year earlier, according to the latest data available from the city’s Statistics and Census Service. During that month, close to 2.6 million mainland Chinese visitors came to Macau, up by 18.5 percent year-on-year.
Visitors that travelled to Macau via package tours in July amounted to an aggregate of 869,900, with 713,900 of those arrivals people from mainland China, according to the statistics bureau’s latest monthly survey of the city’s travel agents. Mainland Chinese tourists make up the majority of Macau inbound package tourists, and the respective July tally of these Chinese package tourists showed a nearly 20 percent year-on-year expansion.
Tourists make up for the majority of gamblers in Macau. A number of them use Hong Kong International Airport – one of the world’s busiest air hubs and now linked directly to the HKZM Bridge – to access Macau. Hong Kong’s airport has however recently been disrupted by a number of protests.
Several memos to investors, issued by analysts last month, suggested that the anti-government protests in Hong Kong had not had a major impact on Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue.
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