Macau could see further improvement for the upcoming Chinese New Year break in February, of the fourth-quarter trend of upped visitor arrivals. That is as long as its sole partner for a quarantine-free travel bubble – mainland China – can continue to keep Covid-19 under control on that side of the border, said the president of the Macau Travel Industry Council, Andy Wu Keng Kuong, in comments to GGRAsia.
China’s State Council has designated February 11 to 17 inclusive, as the Chinese New Year holiday period for 2021. The week-long holiday – linked annually to the lunar calendar and also known as the spring “Golden Week” in China’s official holiday calendar – is typically a busy period for Macau’s casino resorts and the city’s tourism trade.
“It is probable that Macau’s visitor trend can perform even better than the Christmas break,” of this year, Mr Wu told us. “But of course, a matter of concern is whether the Covid-19 situation in the mainland can remain controlled,” he added.
Fresh cases of Covid-19 infection have recently been reported in several districts across the Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang, and Sichuan; as well as in parts of the capital Beijing, and within Inner Mongolia. The Macau government has already specified that people coming from local areas within those places, would need to do a 14-day quarantine on arrival, if they wish to visit Macau.
“We still have about a month’s time before the Chinese New Year Golden Week… but if the mainland’s Covid-19 situation remains stable throughout, we can see even more robust mainland Chinese tourist traffic for this upcoming festive period,” Mr Wu told GGRAsia.
Recent marketing offers for five-star hotels in upmarket casino resorts in the city had been “attracting longer-stay” mainland visitors, Mr Wu observed. “Many tourists are now staying longer here. I think they do buy the idea that now the city’s hotels are offering value-for-money deals. The government’s strong tourism campaigns have also worked,” he added.
The travel-trade representative thought the tally of mainland Chinese visitor arrivals could grow to approximately “700,000 to 800,000” a month in 2021, assuming control of the pandemic on that side of the border.
Mainland Chinese visitor arrivals the city recorded for November amounted to 588,511, the highest this year since the February onset of the pandemic that saw a slump in Macau’s tourist traffic.
“If the visitor traffic from Hong Kong can resume normal levels by the third quarter next year, I think the Macau government’s estimates of the city receiving 14 million tourist arrivals from both the mainland and Hong Kong is still realistic,” Mr Wu told GGRAsia.
Macau recorded over 7.35 million visitor arrivals from Hong Kong during 2019. That neighbouring city is normally Macau’s second-largest source of visitors, but has recently experienced a so-called “fourth wave” of Covid-19 infections.
On December 22, Hong Kong travellers intending to come to Macau were included on a list of arrivals that Macau will subject to an enhanced quarantine – namely 21 days – compared to 14 days previously.
Nonetheless Mr Wu stated: “The vaccination programme against Covid-19 that the Macau government is prepared to apply to the local population in 2021 should boost tourism-sector confidence. That will be important for Macau to get ready to further relax its travel restrictions for tourists.”