Macau Casinos Forecasted to Near 100 Percent Occupancy Rates, as Mass Market Numbers Continue Growth

Posted on: July 9, 2019, 12:44h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2019, 12:44h.

Glitzy Macau casinos rarely have trouble keeping their hotel rooms occupied, and enclave officials are predicting that this summer will be an especially busy period.

Macau casinos hotel rooms gambling
Finding a hotel room in Macau this summer might be more difficult than in past years. (Image: Grand Emperor Hotel)

The mass market continues to drive the enclave’s gaming rebound, as much focus has been given on the general public in the years following China President Xi Jinping’s suppression of VIP junket groups. With more people coming to the region, the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is expecting hotels to be at near capacity.

MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes told GGRAsia this week that her office is expecting a “double-digit” increase in the total number of visitors during the summer holidays. She says that will lead to a “slight increase” in occupancy rates throughout the enclave.

Data from the MGTO shows that January through May 2019 hotel occupancy is up two percent at 92.7 percent. The enclave is home to 38,700 hotel guestrooms.

Growing Mass Market

Statistics from the tourism office reveal just how quickly the mass market is expanding in Macau.

While overall occupancy is up two percent, the rate has jumped nearly 11 percent for three-star rooms. The going average nightly rate for such guestrooms has also increased 4.3 percent from MOP1024 to MOP 1068 ($127 to $133). Three-star hotels include The Parisian, Grand Emperor, and Fortuna properties.

Macau is no longer the isolated Special Administrative Region (SAR) it once was. That’s due to last year’s opening of the Hong Kong to Macau bridge, a 34-mile expanse across the Peal River Delta that was built at a cost of $18.8 billion.

The bridge cuts automobile travel time between the two SARs from roughly four hours to 30 minutes, depending on wind conditions which dictate speed limits.

As a result, same-day visitor numbers are surging. Through May, 9.2 million of the 17.1 million incoming travelers (up 21 percent) departed Macau the same day they arrived.

“The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge enables them to go directly to Zhuhai from Hong Kong. They stay a night in Zhuhai, then head to Macau the next day, and return to Zhuhai within the same day,” Fernandes explained.

Macau Business revealed this week that the six licensed casino operators are collectively employing around 108,000 workers.

Economy Concerns

President Donald Trump and Xi’s trade war truce has eased global economic tensions. After meeting at the G20 summit, Xi and Trump agreed no further tariffs would be raised this year.

Naomi Schalit, a senior political writer at The Conversation, opined this week that China has emerged as the victor in the truce.

The trade war has also rallied the Chinese public around its government. This topic is incredibly emotive in Chinese society and has boosted domestic support for the government,” she wrote.

Regardless, the trade war caused China’s growth rate to go from 6.6 percent in 2018 to 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

There were slim odds that China would target the three casino operators doing business in Macau – Sands, MGM, and Wynn – but billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn’s close ties to Trump and the Republican Party nonetheless raised such concerns. Mr. Wynn is no longer part of his namesake company following the sexual misconduct allegations exposed in January 2018.