Visitor arrivals to Macau are down for the third straight month in year-on-year terms, as the number of tourists from mainland China keeps falling. The total number of tourists to the city numbered 3.03 million in August, up by 14.5 percent month-on-month but down by 1.7 percent year-on-year, data from the city’s Statistics and Census Service showed on Wednesday.
The monthly tally of visitors to the city has declined year-on-year in six of the first eight months of 2015.
Wednesday’s data showed that the average length of stay of visitors increased by 0.1 day year-on-year to 1.1 days last month. Overnight and same-day visitors had an average stay of 2.1 days and 0.2 day, respectively.
In August the number of visitors from mainland China decreased by 1.7 percent year-on-year to 2.10 million – accounting for 69.3 percent of total arrivals. It was however an improvement from the previous month, when the number of mainland tourists totalled 1.76 million.
Macau’s visitor arrivals in the eight months to August 31 decreased by 3.2 percent from the prior-year period to 20.44 million. Mainland Chinese accounted for 66.7 percent of the aggregate number of visitors in the first eight months this year – or 13.64 million visitors, down by 4.1 percent year-on-year.
Local newspaper Jornal Tribuna de Macau reported on Thursday that the government is mulling introducing subsidies to organisers of package tour groups in order to encourage their customers to stay overnight in the city. The government is considering paying travel agencies a subsidy of MOP200 (US$25.10) for each package tourist that stays overnight in Macau, reported the media outlet quoting the Macau Tourist Guide Association president, Angelina Wu Wai Fong.
The Macau Government Tourist Office confirmed that it is studying the possibility of introducing such a subsidy but told the newspaper that it is still canvassing opinions from the industry.
Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, said last week that he was confident that the city can recover from the drop in visitor arrivals seen so far this year. Mr Tam told public broadcaster TDM that he expected visitor arrivals for 2015 to exceed 32 million, a slight increase on the 31.53 million registered in 2014.
Investment analysts have said that headline visitor numbers are not directly correlated to overall gaming demand, as gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the Macau market has been typically skewed to high-end play.
Analysts however have said that given the current anti-graft crackdown in China, the remaining Chinese VIP and premium mass players coming to Macau are accounting for a smaller volume of play and smaller amount of revenue than was seen in those segments in previous years. Official data show that Macau monthly casino GGR fell for 15 consecutive months up to August, judged year-on-year.
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"We have estimated that on average, the [daily] visitor arrivals for this year’s Chinese New Year break could turn out to be a bit weaker than for the Christmas holiday period"
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes
Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office