Chinese New Year Fails to Produce Significant Boost for Macau

Posted on: February 7, 2022, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: February 7, 2022, 12:43h.

Any hope of the Chinese New Year (CNY) giving Macau a substantial injection of traffic and casino revenue failed. Traffic to the SAR during the annual festival only gained 25% from last year’s total.

Macau Chinese New Year
Locals in Macau celebrate the Chinese New Year, seen above. This year saw a slight improvement in visitation, but the figures are still well below the norm. (Image: Macau Business)

The CNY period is typically a great time for Macau. The seven-day holiday attracts a lot of interest from mainland Chinese, as well as visitors from other parts of the world. COVID-19 changed all of that, though.

Only 113,699 tourist visits were recorded, according to the Public Security Police Force (PSPF). This figure is 25% greater than what Macau received last year. However, it’s 90% lower than what was seen in 2020.

The daily average was 16,242, with the highest number on Feb. 3. Falling on a Thursday, not the weekend, 21,972 visitors arrived that day.

Inbound Traffic to Macau Stalls

Even though the average was decent, the traffic was 56.5% less than last year. It was also 90% less than what was seen in 2019, when the average reached 172,857. That year, 1.21 million visitors descended on Macau.

Another indication of the slip in interest can be found in the number of fireworks sold during the period. Macau is the only China-linked jurisdiction where fireworks are allowed, and the CNY is historically known for its great fireworks displays. They are routinely used to ring in the Lunar New Year. Part of the decline this year could be attributed to cold weather and light rain.

However, this year, sales dropped by 61.4% compared to last year, according to the Municipal Affairs Bureau. A total of 1,399 boxes of fireworks were sold, much lower than the 4,900 sold last year.

February Revenue Starts Strong

Travel and movement restrictions were imposed to limit travel and movement after several cities in Guangdong Province reported COVID-19 cases last month.

Arrivals from Guangdong Province to Macau require a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival. This was previously just 24 hours.

Rutger Verschuren, vice-chairman of the Macau Hotel Association, has stated that, despite higher booking numbers than last year, the CNY period was disappointing for the sector. Room rates were lower than usual for the period.

This year has been slow for Macau’s casinos. January’s gaming win dropped 20%, to $793 million, compared to a year earlier.

However, February has reportedly provided some relief. Although the final gaming revenue numbers for the Lunar New Year aren’t yet ready, there was some improvement. Analysts indicate that the initial projects show a 60% year-on-year increase in gaming revenue. More details are coming in the next couple of weeks.