Macau Golden Week Visitor Arrivals Up 10 Percent Through Three Days, Bridge Aiding Increase
Posted on: October 4, 2019, 11:22h.
Last updated on: October 4, 2019, 01:00h.
Golden Week in Macau is seeing an uptick in visitor arrivals this year, as the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) has welcomed 10 percent more travelers in the first three days compared with 2018.
The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) reports that 460,857 travelers have entered the enclave through the first three days of the weeklong holiday. Golden Week is one of the two most important celebrations in China (the other being the Chinese New Year).
Golden Week is an annual festival that kicks off with the October 1 National Day, which commemorates the establishment of the People’s Republic. The vast majority of workers are afforded the week off, and many take domestic vacations.
Macau, the only region where gambling is permitted in the world’s most populated country, benefits from an influx of travelers to its multibillion-dollar casino resorts.
But Are They Gambling?
Gaming industry analysts say there’s little to no correlation between visitor numbers and casino win. The overall opinion is that this year’s Golden Week won’t be as prosperous as last year’s in terms of gross gaming revenue (GGR).
Casinos won $3.39 billion in October 2018. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein are forecasting as much as a six percent year-over-year decline, meaning this month could come in around $3.1 billion.
China’s crackdown in recent years on junket groups has led to a reduction in VIP play. As a result, casinos have given more attention to the mass market.
An increase in room comps and incentives have been granted to lower-spend visitors for Golden Week 2019. JPMorgan said in a note that “while hotel bookings are solid, we expect the quality of the customers will be lower.”
SJM Holdings CEO Ambrose So told reporters that the first few days of Golden Week had been “so-so.”
Paired with a weakening economy, and Macau casinos are seeing their gaming wins declining. Year to date, GGR stands at $27.34 billion – a 1.7 percent decrease.
The 34-mile bridge that transverses the Pearl River Delta and connects Macau to Hong Kong opened last December. Instead of air or ferry travel, people can now move freely between the two enclaves via automobile in roughly 35 minutes.
The infrastructure is bringing many travelers to Macau during Golden Week. According to the MGTO, 36,280 people have arrived via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. The $18.8 billion marvel is the longest sea crossing in the world.
The border gate, the main entryway from the mainland into Macau, is responsible for the overwhelming majority of entrants. More than 293,000 travelers have came via the front gate – 63.6 percent of all arrivals.
Though Golden Week visitor arrivals are up 10 percent through three days, it’s short of what the MGTO predicted. An official with the tourism office said the enclave would likely see a 15 percent surge in overall visitor numbers.