Macau Reports October Surge in Visitor Numbers, Golden Weeks Pays Off

Posted on: November 6, 2020, 10:06h. 

Last updated on: November 6, 2020, 10:29h.

Macau officials say they experienced a much-needed surge in visitor arrivals last month.

Macau casino visitor arrivals GGR
Macau is welcoming back visitors from mainland China who are coming to gamble, be entertained, and sightsee the region’s history, such as the Ruins of St. Paul’s. (Image: Travel News Digest)

Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said in her remarks today that the initial count of visitors in October totaled more than 600,000. If that figure is confirmed by the MGTO, which will release its final report later this month, the number would represent at least a 34 percent increase on September.

Senna Fernandes said last week that the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) was processing over 20,000 visitors per day through its border points. The world’s richest casino hub is benefiting from China resuming the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) that allows mainlanders to come and go into Macau without quarantining on either end.

Along with visitor arrival numbers, the MGTO’s October report will detail where each guest originated from, how much they spent, average length of stay, and the region’s overall hotel occupancy rate.

Macau Optimism?

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in October benefited from the annual Golden Week holiday celebration. The six casino operators won $910 million last month, which was a 229 percent surge on September’s win of just $277 million.

GGR is down 81.4 percent through 10 months in 2020, a staggering loss of over $25 billion. Despite the enormous casino loss this year, a recovery seems to be underway.

The IVS program resumed in August. It first began with the city of Zhuhai on August 12, followed by the rest of the Guangdong Province on August 26. IVS applications were further expanded throughout mainland China on September 23.

Visitor numbers are increasing, but COVID-19 cases are not. In fact, Macau has not reported a single new coronavirus case in months, and, to date, the enclave has confirmed only 46 total cases and zero deaths.

Operators hope that the IVS process will become better streamlined in the months ahead. IVS visas are facilitated by the Public Security Bureau, but their immigration offices continue to require over-the-counter service, as self-serve kiosks remain offline.

We’re still having some trouble in terms of IVS and how IVS is currently working right now,” explained David Sisk, COO of Melco Resorts’ City of Dreams.

“One of the things you can see is you can go to a non-Guangdong Province, and it can take a day. In Guangdong, sometimes it can take 14 days. We still haven’t seen a real consistent pattern other than just the incredible inconsistency,” Sisk added.

Industry, Region Hurting

Casinos are the lifeline of Macau. The gaming industry employs the most people of any sector in the region, and its taxes account for nearly 90 percent of the local government’s budget.

With COVID-19 suspending cross-border travel, Macau has suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic.

The Macau Federation of Trade Unions said this week that 60 percent of casino employees have reported being forced to take unpaid leave at some point this year. At the onset of the pandemic, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng urged casinos to “fulfill their social responsibilities” and keep as many people employed as possible.