Tourists’ return to Macau no sure thing

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
VIP market slow to recover by Macau shows signs of improvement

A top Macau tourism official said there was no guarantee an increase to inbound visitor numbers, despite the resumption of the Individual Visitor Scheme entry system from mainland China.

GGR Asia reports that in comments made to local media, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of Macau Government Tourism Office, said the city was currently receiving about 15,000 inbound travellers a day.

That figure – an increase from days in previous months – coincided with Guangdong province’s reinstatement on August 26 of applications for IVS exit visas.

On the sidelines of a public event, Ms Senna Fernandes said she would expect further “improvement” in the Macau-bound visitor tally during the upcoming October Golden Week holiday period, which this year incorporates the lunar-calendar based mid-autumn festival, as well as China’s October 1 National Day.

China’s state council has designated October 1 to 8 inclusive, as the holiday period.

Nonetheless, Ms Senna Fernandes conceded that COVID-19 counter measures, which include the need for tourists from the mainland to obtain, within seven days of intended arrival, a test certificate showing freedom from infection in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine, had “complicated” cross-border travel.

Macau’s government launched on September 1, a US$50 million spending stimulus scheme aimed at mainland tourists.

It includes discount offers on flight tickets and hotel accommodation, according to an official announcement.

The Macau government is also preparing tourism campaigns on the mainland, in order to promote the city.

The effort starts in Beijing later this month, said Ao Ieong U, Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, speaking at the same event on Friday.

Macau looks to expand city’s tourism offering

Macau is looking at broadening its horizons beyond gambling, to become a more well-rounded tourism destination.

Calvin Ayre reported in early September that the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the city’s gambling industry and serves as the perfect example of why diversification is needed.

Macau’s Master Plan for urban development has gone through its initial design phase.

The latest draft was released last week, with casinos still a focal point.

The plan keeps casinos where they are now in Cotai and New Outer Harbour Area, while stablishing new urban tourism zones that would not be open to casinos or other gambling activity.

Macau officials point to the northern region of Taipa, which could become an urban waterfront masterpiece designated to attract tourism and businesses.

A new tourism and leisure route specialising in different forms of entertainment could also be integrated and located around Nam Van and Barra urban areas.

The area closest to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge could become the go-to spot for conferences and exhibitions, capitalising on the area’s proximity to the bridge and its link to the three significant hubs.

The Master Plan is just a concept, but one that has a lot of potential to see Macau morph into something completely different.

The public now has a chance to weigh in on what it thinks of the project, and can offer input until November 2.

After that, the project and the input will be reviewed and it will most likely be a year before anything else materialises.

In presenting the project, director of Land, Public and Works Transport Bureau Chan Pou Ha explained the department will have 60 days of public consultation, which will follow a period of 180 days for the company responsible for the consultation to elaborate on their preliminary report.

This report will be submitted to the Urban Planning Council, which will have to analyse it and provide comments.

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