Outbound group tours from mainland China “remain suspended,” due to the Covid-19 risk outside its borders, said on Monday a senior official of China’s National Immigration Administration.
Macau, a special administrative region of China, is not currently receiving tour groups from the mainland or elsewhere, according to Macau government commentary, but is receiving mainland tourists travelling on individual exit visas. Some investment analysts have said the volume and pace of such visa issuance for independent travel appears to have been moderated, coinciding with the pandemic alert.
The mainland immigration official, Liu Haitao, added in his Monday remarks that as well as not currently permitting outbound group tours, the mainland authorities “are also not encouraging individuals to leave the country for travelling or leisure, or visiting their friends”.
Mr Liu, head of the National Immigration Administration’s department of frontier inspection and management, was responding to a question on what counted as “non-essential” or “non-urgent” trips: a category of travel previously mentioned by Chinese officials as something to be avoided during the pandemic.
In a press conference of the “Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism” of the State Council, the official added: “Covid-19 outbreaks are still happening around the world and the virus has continued to mutate. Imported cases are quite high, and the risk for travelling to international destinations remains relatively high.”
He stated: “International flights have not yet fully resumed in numbers, and if our trippers are stranded overseas, they will face the risk of getting infected, and bring unnecessary losses to themselves and their families” after they return to China.
In March, on Macau casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd’s fourth-quarter earnings call, chairman and chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau Lung said he didn’t expect either online-processed individual visas or group-tour visas for Chinese mainland consumers to visit Macau, would restart before travel restrictions between mainland China and Hong Kong were eased, and by extension the constraints covering Macau-Hong Kong travel.
In his Monday remarks, mainland official Mr Liu said the immigration authorities would still process travel documents “in a timely manner” for those who need to travel abroad for what were considered essential purposes.
These included: “epidemic prevention and control work; medical treatment; delivery of relief supplies or production and living materials; participation in key engineering projects or organised labour groups; business purposes; scientific research purposes; or academic purposes”.
Mr Liu pledged that the Chinese authorities were determined to combat “cross-border” crimes, mentioning particularly, ‘scams’, ‘gambling’, and ‘drug trafficking’.
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