Slow recovery in visitation after IVS return

Casinos are expecting the IVS for all mainland China to begin on September 23.
Casinos are expecting the IVS for all mainland China to begin on September 23.

If the IVS resumption continues, analysts expect Macau’s six major casino operators to break even by mid-Autumn.

Macau.- The Public Security Police Force has said that about 14,100 visitors from mainland China have arrived in Macau since the resumption of the individual visit scheme (IVS), the visa permits that most Chinese tourists use to visit the city’s casinos.

The IVS was suspended in January due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first region to resume issuing the visas was Zhuhai on August 12.

However, the impact appears to have been minimal so far. A week before the IVS resumption, about 11,200 visitors came to Macau from mainland China.

The Public Security Police Force said 7,500 people arrived on Saturday (August 15) and 6,000 on Sunday, compared with 6,000 and 5,200 respectively on the previous Saturday and Sunday.

The return of the visas is contingent to Macau not presenting community transmited cases of Covid-19. There have been no cases for the last five months.

Tourist visas are scheduled to resume for Guangdong on August 26 and then for the whole of China on September 23.

Recently three cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Guangdong but Macau’s Health Bureau said they will not cause a delay to the IVS resumption.

Unless an outbreak is reported in Macau and the IVS is suspended again, Bernstein Research estimates the six major casino operators in the city will be able to begin to break even at EBITDA level by mid-Autumn.

The firm said casinos will break even once revenues return to between 35 to 40 per cent of Q4 2019. In the first half of August, daily revenue was still 96 per cent below that.

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