Holiday brings new hope for Macao’s tourism, economic recovery

DM Monitoring

MACAO: The first week of October 2020 has recorded 139,280 visitor arrivals to China’s Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), only accounting for 14 percent of the figure in the same period of 2019, the SAR tourism authorities said here on Thursday.
Among them, there were 129,967 mainland visitors, an decrease of 83 percent year-on-year, the tourism authorities added.
The tourist number is still lower than expected, but much higher than the level in previous months since the pandemic began. The long holiday has brought new hope to Macao’s long-term recovery of tourism and economy.
China has welcomed eight days of national holiday this year as the Mid-Autumn Festival coincided with the country’s National Day holiday.
During the long holiday, Macao’s tourism industry had planed to attract mainland tourists by a series of activities such as a firework show and the Macao Light Festival.
At Macao’s tourism attractions such as the Ruins of St. Paul and the Senado Square, and shopping malls next to hotels, tourists showed up on the streets with large trolley cases and backpacks during the long holiday.
Not as crowded as before, but the streets and shops were busy again.
Macao’s tourism sector believed that this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, falling on Oct. 1st, would leave most mainland tourists at home for family union and delay the peak of the tourist number.
Another reason was that although the mainland authorities on Sept. 23 resumed the issuance of travel permit to the Macao SAR for mainland residents as tourists, the application procedure would take longer time than before and make the tourists come to Macao later than expected.
In order to attract more tourists, Macao’s tourism sector had given high discounts on plane tickets and hotel rooms, and e-coupons for shopping. Some five-star hotels even had a discount of as high as 70 percent.
A latest industrial survey showed that Macao’s retailers had 20 percent or 30 percent more revenues during the long holiday.
Wong Fai, the chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Macao, was optimistic about Macao’s tourism’s mid-term recovery, although the recovery would take longer time.
He said tour group services have not been resumed since the pandemic, the slow rise of tourist number is understandable and the market still has lots of potential.
He suggested that since the mainland tourists don’t need to present nucleic acid test result of COVID-19 when traveling between provinces of China, Macao can consider the same policy for low-risk areas such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, to simplify the entry procedure for tourists.
The president of the General Union of Macao Residents Associations Ng Siu Lai also said the SAR government could extend the validity period of nucleic acid test result from seven days to 14 days to facilitate the entry of mainland tourists.