Macau Welcomes Over 30K Visitors on New Year’s Eve, But Entry Restrictions Return

Posted on: January 5, 2021, 12:40h. 

Last updated on: January 5, 2021, 12:58h.

Macau welcomed more than 30,000 visitors into the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) for the Near Year’s Eve holiday. It’s the highest daily tally for entries in almost a year.

Macau casino visitors New Year's Eve
On New Year’s Eve, Macau border agents processed the most visitors in a single day since the pandemic began. (Image: Macau Daily News)

The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) revealed today that 30,747 visitors entered the enclave on Dec. 31. That marked the most travelers arriving into the SAR in a single day since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

Prior to Macau shutting down its borders in January 2020, typical daily entries were around 92,000 people per 24 hours.

Boosted by the charm of a festive holiday, Macau registered 30,747 visitor arrivals [on December 31], the highest daily record over the last eleven months,” an MGTO press release said.

New Year’s showed some signs of recovery, despite the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) continuing to be a lengthy process because of the ongoing suspension of self-service kiosks. However, many Chinese people still obtained travel permits into the world’s richest gaming capital to ring in 2021.

Macau 2021 Celebration

Last year was the worst year for Macau casinos since 2006. They collectively won $7.53 billion on their gaming floors, a nearly 80 percent drop from 2019, when they reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $36.6 billion.

As COVID-19 spread in early 2020, Macau tightened its borders and required mandatory 14-day quarantines upon entry. Some visitors were allowed to self-quarantine in special hotels and were monitored by an ankle bracelet. Others, who were considered more at-risk were forced to shelter in designated quarantine camps.

Visitor arrivals naturally plunged, and the six commercial casino operators saw their 2020 hotel occupancy rates nosedive more than 50 percent. The nightly rates for their five-star guestrooms dropped 30 percent to MOP1050 ($131).

But those same casinos opened up in 2021 with many more of their rooms occupied. The MGTO said just shy of 70 percent of the five-star hotel rooms were sold during the Dec.31 to Jan. 3 period.

Entry Rollbacks

Gaming analysts around the world believe once the coronavirus is contained and the vaccine sufficiently dispersed to the general public, a travel boom will come. The consensus opinion is that after a year of restrictions and lockdowns, millions of people will fulfill their itch to travel.

However, a new variant strain of COVID-19 is threatening to further postpone those glory days envisioned.

Macau announced today that visitors from foreign countries are again prohibited from entering the enclave. Visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan can enter, so long as they have not visited a foreign country within the prior 21 days.

Additionally, those coming from the three permitted areas must present a negative COVID-19 test. The test for Hongkongers must have been completed within the past 24 hours, while tests within the past seven days of arrival are valid for people coming from the mainland and Taiwan.

Once granted entry, visitors will be required to undergo medical observation for 14 to 21 days, depending on their risk assessment. The Macau government has designated two hotels as observation centers — Sheraton Grand Macau and Lisboeta. Macau residents are provided rooms at those hotels free of charge for their first return. On repeat entries, they are required to pay MOP8400 for the 21-stay, and MOP5600 for 14 days ($1,052 – $701).