Macau visitor arrivals up 5.3% in April

Macau saw 794,819 visitors in April.
Macau saw 794,819 visitors in April.

Macau registered 794,819 visitor arrivals in April, up 5.3 per cent from March and 7,000 per cent year-on-year.

Macau.- The Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) has reported that 794,819 tourists visited Macau in April, up 7,000 per cent from April 2020 and up 5.3 per cent from March 2021.

The number of visitor arrivals represents the highest monthly tally since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Of those that visited Macau last month, 92 per cent (730,934 visitors) came from mainland China, which is the only country to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.

Although the numbers are encouraging, the number of visitor arrivals is still far from the 3.43 million arrivals Macau registered in April 2019.

Macau recorded a total of 2.53 million visitor arrivals for the first three months of the year.

Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) director, said Macau expects a daily visitor tally of over 30,000 during the summer.

The Census and Statistics Service has reported that the total spending of visitors (excluding gaming expenses) increased by 23.5 per cent year-on-year to MOP6.18bn in the first quarter of 2021.

Authorities also revealed that the total spending of overnight visitors rose by 48.0 per cent year-on-year to MOP5.59bn, while that of same-day visitors dropped by 52.1 per cent to MOP589m.

Macau’s economy could reach pre-pandemic levels by 2024

Moody’s Investor Service has said that it believes Macau’s economy could rebound to pre-Covid-19 levels by 2024.

Analysts said that although the special administrative region’s (SAR) economy has been seriously hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Macau maintains strong sovereign finances.

Moody’s has given Macau an Aa3 rating, which means it is subject to very low credit risk. It said: “The growth volatility of Macau’s economy is among the highest of all rated sovereigns.

“But despite the highly volatile nature of economic growth, Macao’s vast fiscal and external reserves — significantly stronger than those of similarly rated peers — and very high per capita incomes continue to support its credit profile.”

In April, a report entitled “The case of Covid-19 and Macao’s destination- and gambling-dependent economy”, argued that Macau should turn to online gambling and technology to help its recovery from the pandemic.

The report by Weng Marc Lim (Swinburne University of Technology, Malaysia) and Wai-Ming To (School of Business, Macao Polytechnic Institute) suggests casino operators should “leverage on the technological advances brought by the Industrial Revolution 4.0, such as virtual reality, to deliver a revamped online gambling experience.”

They state that online gambling combined with virtual reality could be effective to curb gambling addiction and could boost casino operators’ revenue amid uncertainty about possible new Covid-19 waves.

There is also a research paper from Pedro Cortes, managing partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortes, and Antonio Lobo Viela, an advisor on gaming-related matters, that proposes to add requirements for operators to help the diversification of Macau’s economy.

According to the analysts, Macau has a weak economy that is “excessively dependent on tourism and gaming,” something that came starkly into view after during Covid-19 countermeasures.

Cortes and Lobo Viela think the city’s gaming licence criteria should require “commitments relating to several non-core activities or investments on the part of the gaming businesses and corporate and social responsibility plans.”

Analysts also suggest there should be a requirement for proposals for investment in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) to create an international world-class tourism destination, recognising the uniqueness of Macau’s cultural and social resources.

Assessment of gaming operators

Legislator Ella Lei Cheng I has said that legislators are suggesting the government conduct an assessment on how Macau’s gaming companies have exercised their contracts.

The proposal comes ahead of a Legislative Assembly consultation session to gather opinions on proposed amendments to Macau’s gaming law.

The consultation will include the participation of the 10-member Public Concessions Follow-up Committee.

Macau’s current casino licences will expire in June 2022 but could be extended for up to five years under to the city’s gaming laws.

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