China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism confirmed on Wednesday that businesses normally involved in, respectively, “inbound and outbound” package tours involving the mainland market; and bundled sale of “flights and hotels”, are “not to resume” such commerce for now, due to concerns that Covid-19 might make a comeback in China during cooler months.
Wong Fai, the director of the Travel Industry Council of Macau, told GGRAsia that the ministry’s announcement had relevance for Macau’s tourism sector. “The [ministry’s] announcement just adds to more bad news for the sector,” Mr Wong said.
Some Macau-based travel agencies that usually organise package tours to the city for mainland China customers, had affirmed to the trade body that they were aware of the directive, said Mr Wong.
Online booking platforms are also covered by the instruction, according to the central government.
The ministry’s announcement – published on its website – stated the need for “improving virus-prevention work” for the travel sector, due to the risk of Covid-19 outbreak during the “autumn and winter season”. The announcement did not clarify which calendar months would be covered by the directive.
China’s National Immigration Administration had said in an August 11 bulletin, that it would “gradually resume” issuance of visas for group tours as well as for individual visits. The application system for Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) visas to Macau was reactivated for the whole of the mainland on September 23.
But Helena de Senna Fernandes, head of Macao Government Tourism Office, had been quoted recently by local media as saying that the city was still waiting on the mainland authorities to reactivate group tours.
Currently the only quarantine-free travel bubble operated by Macau is with mainland China. IVS trippers must have a Covid-19 test certificate issued within seven days, in order to gain quarantine-free entry.