Macau Visitors Returning in Bunches as Government Eases Border Restrictions

Posted on: November 2, 2021, 12:27h. 

Last updated on: November 2, 2021, 01:12h.

Macau gaming revenue totaled just $545 million last month, a 42 percent drop from October 2020. But November is shaping up to be much better.

Macau casino border gate China entry
A file photo shows automobiles at a Macau border gate. Traffic is returning to the Chinese casino hub, as 2021 nears its end. (Image: Shutterstock)

Macau and neighboring Zhuhai in mainland China recently removed quarantine requirements for people moving between the two areas. The decision came after government authorities determined that the late September and early October COVID-19 spread has been contained.

Macau casinos, the economic lifeline of the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR), are experiencing strong demand since the border terminated quarantine mandates for most people on October 19.

The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) reports that the number of people making their way through the gates each day is upwards of 30,000. Macau’s Judiciary Police is tasked with handling border security and counting the flow of people in and out of the SAR.

By comparison, the region was counting less than 1,200 daily travelers when Macau was under its state of immediate prevention. That was headlined by requiring visitors to undergo a 14-day medical observation upon entry.

The MGTO said 30,512 people entered Macau last Friday, Oct. 29.

Welcomed Return

Macau’s six commercial casino operators won the least amount of gaming money in October than any other month so far in 2021. Last month’s $545 million was a far cry from the nearly $3.3 billion the casinos won in October 2019.

Macau is currently open without quarantine for most people arriving from mainland China. However, there are exceptions, with inbound travelers from the below list of provinces and cities still being required to undergo two weeks of medical observation.

Medical observation/quarantine remains for:

  • Inner Mongolia
  • Gansu
  • Shaanxi
  • Ningxia Hui
  • Xinjiang Uygur
  • Guizhou
  • Beijing
  • Shandong
  • Heilongjiang
  • Qinghai
  • Yunnan

Sanford Bernstein gaming analysts focused on Macau expect November GGR to benefit from the influx of visitors. The financial firm is forecasting casino wins to come in around $1.12 billion. That is about 40 percent of Macau’s November 2019 GGR but would represent a 33 percent jump on November 2020, when casino win totaled approximately $842 million.

We forecast November GGR to be down over 60 percent vs November 2019 and expect improvement (which has just begun) to continue into December, but more significant travel impediment removals are not likely until next year,” the Bernstein analysts wrote.

The Bernstein note referenced that Macau remains closed to all visitors from foreign countries not named China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

Macau Marketing Mission

Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng maintains that the Chinese enclave will carry on with its COVID-19 policy. That requires a stringent response to even a small cluster of new coronavirus cases. But with the pandemic contained, for the time being, Macau tourism officials say they’re embarking on a marketing onslaught.

As the pandemic control and prevention measures were loosened at the ports of entry between Zhuhai and Macau, MGTO unfolded the marketing campaign to spotlight Macau as a safe and quality destination among Mainland residents,” an MGTO statement explained.

Among the events the tourism office is heavily promoting are the Macau Grand Prix and Macau Food Festival, set for later this month, and December’s Macau Light Festival and Light Up Macau Drone Gala.

MGTO officials say the online response has been strong, the office reporting that the advertising campaigns have garnered “enthusiastic feedback from mainland netizens.”