It might be 2025 before Macau annual visitor volume is back to at least 91 percent of the pre-pandemic level recorded in 2019, says the Macao Government Tourism Office. The forecast was in a review report, issued on Friday, of progress on goals under the tourism bureau’s ‘Macao Tourism Industry Master Plan’, that had been published in 2017.
The latest 66-page review document said that by 2025, visitor arrivals were likely to tally at least 36 million, and possibly as many as 41 million; i.e., actually higher than pre-crisis levels.
In 2019, the city saw just over 39.4 million visits. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, there were 85.0 percent fewer visitors; i.e., just under 5.9 million arrivals. Most of them came at the start of the year, before the global crisis developed, according to previous data issued by the tourism bureau.
The latest review document of the city’s tourism master plan noted there would be at least an 11.7-percent increase in the number of available hotel rooms by 2025 relative to 2020; i.e., 46,800, compared to 41,884 last year. The review said there could be as many as 53,800 available hotel rooms by 2025: which would be a 28.5 percent rise on 2020.
The review also suggested hotel average occupancy would by 2025 be back to 2019 levels; i.e., 90.8 percent. In 2020, the average was only 28.6 percent.
The update also stated that as the tourism market underwent recovery to pre-pandemic levels, “its development must be balanced with the local natural resources, the residents’ quality of life and social development”.
The paper added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has provided an important time window for Macau to re-examine its tourism carrying capacity, establish visitor flow monitoring and response measures and improve infrastructure” for the city’s tourism industry.
It further stated that “in the future, the government and the tourism industry will work hard to reduce the negative impact brought by the development of the tourism industry, proactively implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and allow the tourism industry to truly benefit, facilitate and serve the people”.
Set against that, the paper said Macau was facing “fierce competition from other travel destinations in the Asia-Pacific region,” including Vietnam and Thailand.
Additionally, “Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia and other countries” were “experiencing rapid growth in their gaming sector due to policy support,” said the MGTO review.
The pandemic had “exposed the problems” of Macau’s “simple industrial structure dominated by the gaming sector and insufficient diversification of source markets,” added the paper. That was understood to refer to the Macau casino sector’s reliance on the traditional core markets of mainland China and Hong Kong.
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