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Macau on track for business and tourism restart

CNY expected to bring positive momentum for the inbound travel, alongside debut of The Londoner hotel.

Sands China's The Londoner Macao will open progressively throughout 2021, starting in February.
Sands China's The Londoner Macao will open progressively throughout 2021, starting in February. Photo Credit:Sands China/The Londoner

Macau has not had a Covid-19 case in more than six months, and hospitality and tourism in the city are slowly picking up momentum since the reinstatement of tourist visas for all Chinese travellers since 23 September, 2020.

According to reports by Statistics and Census Service shared by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the relaxed visa policies and exemption of quarantine upon arrival have shown a slow yet continuous increase in visitor arrivals.

September 2020 registered nearly four times the number of Mainland China visitors compared to July, and October marked a further 35 per cent increase from September—likely a result of the Golden Week holidays.

With 42,000 hotel rooms in Macau, excluding inns and guest houses, occupancy rates at hotels currently range between 40 per cent and 51.8 per cent. Moving forward, MGTO anticipates daily visitor arrivals to be between 20,000 and 30,000.

Pamela Chan, head of marketing of Taipa Village Destination, noted "some signs of business revival since mid-October last year, facilitated by tourists" who get to cherry pick the "many great deals offered by our restaurants, merchants, as well as enticing promotions at the integrated resorts".

Chan continues to be confident about a continuous and gradual business uptick business at the popular attraction zone. Still, although visa protocols have been relaxed for Mainland Chinese visitors, there’s another possible deterrent: long queues and a tedious process of Covid-19 tests before receiving relevant paperwork for entry.

“The [Chinese] government is also promoting domestic travel instead of travelling abroad. Those visiting Macau are not coming just for sight-seeing, they’re here to shop or visit the casinos. Most travellers are coming from the Greater Bay area; Guangdong, Zhongshan and Zhuhai. Fifty to 70 per cent are day-trippers; those who stay overnight are staying longer, an average 1.7 nights, previously it averaged 1.4 nights,” said Rutger Verschuren, president of the Macau Hotel Association.

Looking ahead into 2021, Verschuren added that general numbers are still "40 per cent [lower] than 2019 due to a combination of low occupancy and lower room rates, but we are building momentum, quarter to quarter, and expecting a reasonable summer and hoping for a good last quarter of 2021. This period has made hotel management teams review organisation charts, technologies and how to run a more efficient operation".

Adding to the positive momentum is Sands China's latest hospitality project, The Londoner Macao. The 600-room hotel is set to open in early February, in time for the Lunar New Year, cross-border travel is expected to pick up momentum with more Chinese visitors travelling to Macau over the week-long festive holiday.

“The upcoming Chinese New Year will be a peak period, and we are receiving more hotel room bookings. While all hospitality operators should anticipate lower figures than usual, we are confident that visitation will gradually rise,” said Kris Kaminsky, senior vice president of Resort Operations, Sands China.