Donaco largely untouched by coronavirus outbreak

by William Brown Last Updated
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Operators of Donaco International, an Australian-listed casino group in Indochina, say they have not noticed any impact on business from novel coronavirus a Cambodia’s Star Vegas, the largest casino in Poipet, a bustling border town on the Thai border.

The outbreak of the virus, which was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, has so far killed more than 1,600 people and infected hundreds more.

The company said the border crossing from Thailand to Poipet remains open as usual.

Khmer Times reports that Donaco fears the epidemic will likely affect its operations in Cambodia if the outbreak persists.

“In the longer term, if efforts to contain the virus are unsuccessful, there is likely to be an impact on the Thai economy generally, which has a strong tourism element.

“This may lead to an overall reduction in demand from Thai visitors to the Poipet casino,” it explained.

Meanwhile, the company said the virus has already hurt its business operations in Vietnam, where it operates Aristo International Hotel in Lao Cai, Vietnam, which borders China’s Yunnan province.

“It has suffered a substantial reduction in players visiting the Aristo casino hall and a consequent reduction in gaming turnover because the border crossing at Lao Cai is currently tightly restricted, allowing through only visitors with “urgent” or “official” business reasons,” it pointed out.

For the first 11 days of February, toital casino visitors numbered 1,374, averaging about 125 per day, a 75 per cent drop from the first 11 days of January, when there were 5,510 visitors, averaging 501 a day, it noted.

Macau quiet amid coronavirus outbreak

Macau is usually bustling with gamblers during China’s Lunar New Year holiday but the flood of tourists has been reduced to a trickle this year as fears grew over coronavirus.

Yahoo News reported earlier this month that the number of visitors to the world’s largest casino hub has plunged nearly 80 per cent in the past week, transforming the city into a shadow of its former self.

As the only place in China that allows gambling, the former Portuguese colony is normally a huge draw for people from other parts of the country.

But on the sixth day of the holiday, only several dozen people were seen at the usually teeming ruins of the 17th-century St Paul’s church – a tourist hotspot.

Most wore surgical masks as a preventative measure against the novel coronavirus, which has infected almost 12,000 people across the nation.

“Everyone is wearing a mask. It is not convenient to take pictures – we dare not remove the masks,” 23-year-old Wei I Ting, a tourist from Taiwan told AFP.

Shotah Zhang, who owns a pastry shop, said he was worried about he future of his business.

“As you can see, almost no one is here. We have quite a big problem because we are a small business,” Zhang said.

The outbreak is dealing a heavy blow to Macau’s economy, which has bet most of its chips on gambling and tourism.

Figures from January show gaming revenue fell 11.3 per cent on the same month last year.

The city had confirmed seven cases of the virus as of Saturday and authorities have announced measures to curb its spread, including temperature checks and mandatory health declarations for visitors at the border with mainland China.

In casinos, all staff have been ordered to wear masks and temperature checks are being carried out at entrances.

The government has also banned anyone who has visited Hubei province – the epicentre of the outbreak – from entering the casinos altogether.

But a 24-year-old marketing supervisor for a coffee shop was more hopeful.

“We believe after the virus is gone, customers will come back,” she said.

Macau’s streets have been left empty due to fears over the coronavirus.

At casinos, all staff have been ordered to wear masks and temperature checks are being carried out at entrances.

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