Macau tourist numbers down

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Gaming operators told to remain impartial ahead of Macau elections

In the nine days from the reopening of Macau’s casinos on February 20, the city welcomed in total fewer than half the tally of tourists it received on average in a single day last year.

GGR Asia reports that according to the city’s Public Security Police in response to GGR Asia’s enquiry, from February 20 to 28 inclusive, Macau received 50,000 visitors.

In 2019, the statistical daily average was circa 108,000 tourist visitors per day, based on that year’s tally of 39.4 million arrivals as reported previously by the city’s Statistics and Census Service.

Macau’s casinos were shuttered for 15 days up to and including February 19, as a way to prevent the spready locally of the coronavirus that has affected travel and tourism across the world.

Of the 50,000 visitors to Macau over those nine days, 26,000 arrivals involved Hong Kong residents and 20,000 were mainland tourists, with the remaining 4,000 accounted for by people with other forms of travel document, the police said.

Mainlanders still made up 40 per cent of all arrivals in the sample period.

That is despite the fact that authorities there are reported to have temporarily stopped issuing new Individual Visit Scheme exit visas for independent travellers to Macau, and have halted package tours out of China as ways of trying to stop the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

Investment analysts covering the Macau casino market have mentioned that other forms of exit visa from mainland China – transit visas involving use of Macau as a stop-off point to other places, business visas for commercial trips and family reunion visas – were still being issued to eligible mainland residents.

Those tourists that do come, still face further checks if they wish to enter one of the city’s casino floors.

The local Health Bureau asks each visitor to make a personal declaration about the state of their health.

They are also expected to submit to a body temperature check and to wear a protective mask on the gaming floor.

Tourists are also expected to wear masks when seeking to travel by bus or taxi, and may be refused carriage without one.

Tourists that have been to any area with high numbers of novel coronavirus infections in the 14 days before their arrival to Macau, must pass a medical examination by Macau health authorities before being allowed into the city.

Such an examination can take up to eight hours to complete.

The list of places considered to have high infection rates is being regularly updated by the Macau authorities and includes several provinces on the Chinese mainland.

People that have been to South Korea, Italy and/or Iran in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macau face mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

There are currently no ferry services from either Hong Kong or the mainland to Macau, with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge currently the only available land transport connection from Hong Kong to Macau.

Macau casino gross gaming revenue declined by 87.8 per cent in February in year-on-year terms, negatively impacted by the 15-day casino shutdown.

Such GGR was $387 million, according to data issued on Sunday by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

Chiba pulls out of Japanese IR contention

The Japanese city of Chiba said earlier this week that it will not seek to host a casino resort, citing its priority on reconstruction following natural disasters.

The Japan Times reports the central government plans to open casino resorts at up to three locations and Chiba was considering a bid.

“Campaigning to host an IR would take a lot of energy at a time when we need to place our top priority on post-disaster reconstruction and restoration,” Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai told a news conference.

He said the city’s decision has nothing to do with the unfolding bribery scandal involving some lawmakers, including a former state minister who was in charge of the government’s casino resort policy.

On Tuesday, the government launched a body to regulate and supervise casinos that will be opened in the country.

Public prosecutors are still investigating the bribery case.

Yokohama will continue working on a bid to host a casino as the government is “moving ahead as scheduled”, a city official said.

Speaking to reporters the same day, Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui reiterated the city’s hope of opening a resort by the end of fiscal 2026.

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