Macau COVID-19 Cases Hurt Golden Week Travel, Half of Casino Bookings

Posted on: September 27, 2021, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2021, 10:14h.

The recent detections of new COVID-19 cases in Macau will result in casinos losing out on millions of dollars in operating revenue during the upcoming Golden Week holiday.

Macau casino COVID-19 China Golden Week
Visitors arrive with their bags in Macau ahead of China’s Golden Week holiday. Cancellations are aplenty after new COVID-19 cases were identified in the region. (Image: Macau Daily Times)

Over the weekend, Macau confirmed two new local COVID-19 infections and entered into a “state of immediate prevention” as a result. The patients reportedly contracted the virus while working as security guards at Golden Crown China, a government-designated quarantine hotel.

A man who traveled overseas earlier this month and was ordered to quarantine upon arrival in Macau later tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing has pinpointed him as the source for the two new infections.

Macau is allowing gaming operations to continue for the time being. But that could change based on the results of the region-wide testing program. Now through tomorrow, all residents and visitors currently in Macau must undergo a COVID-19 test.

It’s the second time Macau has initiated a region-wide testing blitz. In early August, Macau tested approximately 720,000 people, all of whom reportedly tested negative.   

Golden Week Spoiler

With Macau back in an enhanced coronavirus prevention scheme, the upcoming Golden Week holiday will suffer.

Players may cancel their trips ahead of time on concerns that they may need to be quarantined when they return to China,” said Credit Suisse analyst Kenneth Fong.

Speaking with GGRAsia, Andy Wu, president of the Macau Travel Industry Council, revealed that almost half of Golden Week trips have already been called off because of the COVID-19 cases.

Wu explained to the gaming media outlet focused on Asia that Cotai Strip casino resorts were forecast to see occupancy rates as high as 90 percent during the vacation period. But with the new coronavirus cases and subsequent entry and exit requirements, that rate could come in at just 50 percent.

Anyone currently trying to leave Macau must obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure. Zhuhai, which is a major feeder market for Macau, is ordering all people returning from Macau to undergo 14 days of quarantine observation.

The timing of these travel restrictions could hardly be worse, as the industry was preparing for solid pent-up demand for the upcoming Golden Week,” analysts at JPMorgan wrote. “We think it’s a foregone conclusion that it will be an un-golden holiday.”

The seven-day Golden Week holiday runs from Friday, October 1, through Thursday, October 7. The annual celebration commemorates China’s establishment of the People’s Republic on October 1, 1949.

Gaming Consultation Canceled

Room reservations weren’t the only thing wiped out by the COVID-19 spread. Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has postponed its first of four planned public consultation sessions scheduled for this Wednesday, Sept. 29.

The meetings are for DICJ officials to meet with the public to discuss potential new regulations that will govern the region’s gaming industry in its next incarnation.

The six casino operating licenses will expire next June. The odds favor Macau issuing new operating permits to the six companies but under new regulations.

Three DICJ public consultations remain on the calendar for October 9, 12, and 19.