COVID-19 Kills Macau Golden Goose, Holiday Week Nearly Nonexistent

Posted on: October 11, 2021, 08:26h. 

Last updated on: October 11, 2021, 09:36h.

Macau Golden Week wasn’t golden at all, as the region welcomed in less than 8,200 visitors during the annual October celebration last week.

Macau China Golden Week COVID-19
Visitors in Macau explore the Ruins of Saint Paul’s last week. China’s Golden Week was far from golden in Macau. The casino hub usually greatly benefits from the annual holiday week. (Image: Macau Business)

A handful of new COVID-19 cases recently detected in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) resulted in people staying away from Macau during the October 1-8 holiday.

Golden Week commemorates the establishing of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Most workers are afforded time off during the week, and are encouraged to travel domestically. Prior to the pandemic, more than 700 million Chinese people each year were estimated to have traveled during the first week in October.

Macau, one of two SARs in China — the other being Hong Kong — welcomed 980,000 people during the seven-day holiday in 2019. The time is typically a robust period for Macau casinos, as their resort hotels are packed with visitors on holiday exploring the region.

The pandemic, however, essentially halted the 2020 and 2021 festivities. Macau’s Public Security Police, which handles border gate crossings, revealed that the region counted just 8,159 visitor arrivals for the entirety of the 2021 holiday break.

Restrictions Keep People Away

Macau’s Golden Week was dealt a major blow when the new COVID-19 cases were detected just days before the weeklong holiday.

The most severe announcement came when government officials in Macau and neighboring Zhuhai announced that their plan to allow residents of the two areas to come and go freely without quarantines was being suspended. The two locales opted to instead keep their current measures for pandemic prevention and control in place, which is highlighted by urging all people to avoid nonessential travel.

Numerous other prefectures and cities across the mainland reimplemented quarantine requirements on people returning from Macau. Beijing, for instance, is mandating all people arriving from Macau to undergo 14 days of medical observation upon return.

Macau is additionally closed off to all outsiders, other than those arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Exceptions are available for emergency-related entry.

Gaming Revenue Slows

Fewer people naturally resulted in reduced gambling income for Macau’s six licensed casino operators. According to JP Morgan analysts, gross gaming revenue (GGR) is estimated to be “about 10 percent” of 2019 Golden Week levels.

The JP analysts believe Macau casinos won an estimated MOP1.25 billion (US$156 million) from gamblers during the holiday week, plus the three days through October 10. That number expressed by the JP Morgan experts was shared by analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Our channel checks indicate that Macau’s month-to-date GGR (October 1 to 10) was MOP1.25 billion,” explained the Sanford coverage.

Despite the slow holiday, Macau’s casino operators publicly traded in the US are all making gains during early trading to begin the week. As of 11:15 am ET, Las Vegas Sands shares were up nearly four percent, MGM Resorts one percent, Wynn Resorts more than three percent, and Melco Resorts four percent.