Resumption by the mainland Chinese authorities of exit visas for residents of Zhuhai in Guangdong province to visit Macau for tourism has had “no impact yet” on the fortunes of the Macau casino industry, says a brokerage.
Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd gave the assessment on Monday, in its update on Macau’s August casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) up to Sunday inclusive.
“While Zhuhai has started visa issuances, there is no impact”on Macau gaming “yet”, and as a result, “the wait goes on,” wrote analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu, adding they expected as things stand, that August GGR would “see a decline of 94 percent” judged year-on-year.
Border checkpoints between Macau and Zhuhai were closed for some hours on Thursday, in the aftermath of Typhoon Higos, a category-10 storm that passed close to Macau overnight on Wednesday and into early Thursday.
The right to apply for China’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) visas, and ones for tour groups, was reinstated for people from Zhuhai, the mainland city next door to Macau, on August 12. Such permits had been suspended nationally since late January, as part of efforts to control Covid-19.
The rest of Guangdong is to see such visa rights reinstated from Wednesday (August 26). Such visa rights for those from selected places in the rest of the country are due to make a comeback on September 23.
“Since Zhuhai tourism visa resumed on August 12, there has seen some pickup, but not an obvious recovery” in Macau’s visitor numbers or GGR, said the Sanford Bernstein team.
The institution’s analysts said that on average, there had been “7,100 daily visitors last week in Macau, versus approximately 5,600 average daily visitors from August 1 to 12.”
They further noted: “The wait on IVS visa applications is approximately seven to 10 days, as automated visa issuance system is not yet active, and applicants have to go through the application process in person (for now).”
According to Macau government data, there were 7,700 arrivals by visitors on Sunday (August 23).
“While the recovery is to be gradual, we expect visa resumption in the entire Guangdong province on August 26 would help boost the visitation data by early-to-mid-September,” added the analysts.
Sanford Bernstein said its “channel checks” indicated that Macau’s GGR for August 1 to 23 was approximately MOP950 million (US$119 million), with a month-to-date average daily rate of approximately MOP41 million.
The month-to-date average daily rate was “down 95 percent compared to same period of August 2019 (average daily rate, MOP824 million) and -5 percent compared to July 2020 (average daily rate, MOP43 million),” stated the institution.
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Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Shirley Yang
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein