2m visitors from China roll into Macau

Easing of visa limits see arrivals soar with hoteliers looking forward to Chinese New Year boost – but industry leader says non-local MICE events still a long way off

VISITORS numbers arriving to Macau from mainland China have passed the 2 million mark since a visa scheme was resumed in mid-September, according to analysts.

The figures have been welcomed by Macau’s hotel operators, but international business events are still a long way from recovery, says a local industry leader.

The Macau government has wasted little time in giving the go ahead to events in the past two months, but organisers were opting to hold business events in mainland China, says Bruno Simoes, who runs Small World Experience DMC, told MIX.

The Venetian Macao has hosted two conferences organised by Macau government departments and the venue also has a roster of public events lined up for 2021.

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Several events organised by Venetian Macao in January are expected to attract at least 74,000 people. The events include a baby and child products expo with an estimated 37,000 visitors and the Lunar New Year Shopping Food Expo, January 17-19, with 30,000 expected to walk through the doors of Sands China’s integrated resort in Cotai.

Simoes said the two recent trade shows and conferences organised by IPIM – the trade and investment body – and Macao Government Tourism Office, helped to build confidence in the industry, but the “recipients of most of the business were the usual providers of government events”.

“Events involving visitors are not happening yet. The MICE business will take long time to come back to Macau and that is widely accepted by the local industry,” Simoes said.

“MICE events in Macau make sense when they involve attendees coming from the Asia region. At present it is only possible to do events with mainland China and Macau attendees and, in this case, organisers prefer to do events in mainland China.”

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Woflgang Arlt, of Cotri Analytics, which studies China’s outbound tourism market, said official tourism-arrival figures were on the conservative side and would have hit more than 2 million between mid-September and this week.

Cotri estimates about 400,000 visitors per month for November and December. “Therefore 2 million is a conservative estimate, [it] may well be 2.2 or 2.3 million in the end,” Arlt said.

Though hotels and casinos are not operating at the capacity levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, events such as the city’s Grand Prix are seen as steering Macau towards recovery.

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Hoteliers are looking forward to the trend continuing as Chinese New Year approaches.

Daniella Tonetto, general manager sales and marketing for Sheraton Grand Macao and The St. Regis Macao, said: “Since the Individual Visit Scheme reopened in September, we’ve been recording gradual growth in visitor numbers from mainland China, and we’re forecasting FIT arrivals to continue to grow into the new year, especially over Chinese New Year in February.”

Macau resumed tourism visas for residents of neighbouring Zhuhai on August 12 followed by the rest of Guangdong province on August 26. Visas to Macau for the whole of mainland China restarted on September 23.

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