Most of the hotels in casino properties in Macau are likely to be sold out or close to full during the coming Labour Day holiday, two local travel industry associations separately told GGRAsia. Some properties already have no rooms available for that festive period, according to data collated by us from those hotels’ respective official booking websites. The aggregate number of visitors to the city is also expected to rise year-on-year, according to our informal poll of the industry.
Mainland Chinese citizens are likely to be able to enjoy at minimum three consecutive days of recreation during the Labour Day holiday, i.e., during the period Saturday, April 29, to Monday, May 1, inclusive, which is prescribed as an official festive period by China’s State Council.
According to checks by GGRAsia, some of the hotels in Macau peninsula casino hotels and the hotels in casino resorts in the city’s Cotai district are fully booked on April 29 and April 30. These properties include: Grand Lisboa, run by SJM Holdings Ltd; MGM Macau, run by MGM China Holdings Ltd; Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace, run by Wynn Macau Ltd; Crown Towers, located inside City of Dreams, a resort operated by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd; the Ritz-Carlton, Macau, and JW Marriott Hotel Macau, respectively part of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s Galaxy Macau property on Cotai; Galaxy Entertainment’s StarWorld Hotel on Macau peninsula; and the St Regis Macao, Cotai Central, along with the Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel Cotai Central, both properties at Sands China Ltd’s Sands Cotai Central resort.
As of 5.15pm on Thursday afternoon, hotel room availability for April 29 and April 30 was mostly limited to high-end rooms at, respectively: Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central; Conrad Macao Cotai Central; the Parisian Macao; the Venetian Macao; and Sands Macao, all properties at Sands China venues. The same applied to Grand Hyatt Macau, the Hard Rock Hotel, Macau; the hotel towers at Studio City; and the hotel at Altira, all properties at Melco Resorts venues.
Galaxy Hotel at Galaxy Entertainment’s Galaxy Macau was fully booked for April 29, with limited availability on April 30, while the Banyan Tree Macau; Hotel Okura Macau and Broadway Hotel – respectively also located at that company’s Cotai properties – had a limited number of rooms for the two days. SJM Holdings’ Hotel Lisboa Macau, one of the oldest properties on the city’s peninsula, still had rooms available for both days.
“I think it’s possible that the hotels in casinos here can achieve an occupancy of up to 90 percent for the coming Labour Day holiday,” the president of the Macau Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association Chan Chi Kit remarked to us. “We saw that they [casino operators] have already started doing promotions on accommodation half a year ago for the holiday period… and the rates that they offered to clients are very competitive,” he noted.
“Competitive” rates as alluded to by Mr Chan, had contributed to a modest decline in the average cost of a Macau hotel room during the first quarter of this year, according to data previously collated by another body, the Macau Hotel Association. Such price moderation occurred against the backdrop of increased supply and stiffer competition among Macau casino operators seeking to sell their hotel accommodation, according to some investment analysts. At the end of February, Macau had 36,400 hotel rooms, an increase of 13.2 percent from a year earlier.
The average cost of a Macau hotel room during the first three months of 2017 was MOP1,298.4 (US$162) per night, show data from the Macau Hotel Association. That was a fall of 2.4 percent from the prior-year period.
Andy Wu Keng Kuong, president of the Macau Travel Industry Council, said he believed Macau could even see a “double-digit” percentage year-on-year increase in the number of mainland Chinese visitors coming to the city during the coming Labour Day holiday period.
“Given the hotel bookings that we’ve seen so far, Macau will be a popular short-stay destination for mainland Chinese visitors during this short holiday period,” Mr Wu said. “Lately, given the political tension between South Korea and China, it’s also possible that more Chinese visitors would opt for Macau instead of heading there [South Korea],” he added.
According to some investment analysts, the South Korean market for inbound tourism is currently facing headwinds due to a political row between that country and China over the siting on South Korean soil of a U.S.-supplied missile system designed to counter North Korea’s ballistic missile programme.
In a March 6 note, analyst David Bain of Aegis Capital Corp, said Macau might benefit from any displacement of mainland Chinese tourists from the South Korea market.
“Except for the quiet days during the Ching Ming festival, we saw quite a strong visitor flow here [in Macau] so far in April – in particular the days of the Easter holiday when there was a large number of Hong Kong clients that stayed here,” Mr Chan of the Macau Hoteliers and Innkeepers Association remarked to us. “I think it’s possible that this trend of strong visitor flow can last until the Labour Day holiday,” he added.
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"The Macau recovery continues to be disrupted by false starts, while the lack of [Chinese] public holidays for rest of the year should cap the pace of the rebound”
Andrew Lee and David Katz
Analysts at brokerage Jefferies LLC