The tally of visitor arrivals to Macau in March 2020 “tumbled” by 93.7 percent year-on-year to 212,311, said on Tuesday the city’s Statistics and Census Service.
The decline was influenced by “the ongoing epidemic of the novel coronavirus pneumonia,” said the government body, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic that in recent weeks saw Macau ban all travellers from overseas and impose a 14-day quarantine on most visitors from the Greater China region.
The aggregate number of visitor arrivals to Macau in March represented nonetheless an increase of 35.8 percent from February, noted the statistics bureau.
Overnight visitors (125,896) and same-day visitors (86,415) declined respectively by 92.0 percent and 95.2 percent from a year earlier. The average length of stay of visitors went up by 1.8 days year-on-year to 3.0 days; overnight visitors prolonged their stay by 2.5 days to 4.7 days, whereas the duration for same-day visitors remained unchanged at 0.2 day, according to Tuesday’s data.
In terms of source markets, the number of mainland Chinese visitors “plummeted” by 96.3 percent year-on-year in March to 88,890, with the number of those travelling under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) “plunging” by 99.4 percent.
Visitors from Hong Kong (111,347) fell by 81.5 percent from the prior-year period, while those from other major source markets showed decreases of more than 90 percent, said the statistics bureau.
As part of efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 disease, a number of restrictions has been put in place – including the temporary suspension, reportedly since late January, of new exit visas under China’s IVS. Tour groups from the mainland to Macau are also suspended. Such restrictions had resulted in a dramatic reduction in the normal levels of cross-border traffic between Macau and the mainland.
In the first quarter of 2020, visitor arrivals to Macau totalled nearly 3.22 million, down 68.9 percent year-on-year. Same-day visitors (approximately 1.70 million) and overnight visitors (1.52 million) decreased by 69.8 percent and 67.9 percent respectively. Visitors from mainland China (2.29 million) and Hong Kong (649,868) fell by 69.2 percent and 63.8 percent respectively in year-on-year terms.
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, said on Monday that the city’s government would ask China’s central government to increase the number of cities covered by the IVS, once the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled.
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"The travel impediments [in mainland China] will lead to reduced visitation into Macau for the next few weeks at least, with Chinese New Year visitation being impacted"
Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd