On Wednesday 3 August, authorities in Macao announced people could enter the neighboring mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai without quarantine. The move is a further relaxation of strict Covid-19 policies as the world’s biggest gambling hub seeks a return to what life used to be.
Authorities have also reopened Macao’s public services and entertainment facilities in Macao. People leaving the Chinese special administrative region for Zhuhai must have a certificate that shows a negative Covid-19 test within the past 24 hours and take further two tests within three days of arriving in the Chinese city, the government said in a statement. Arriving travelers are banned from taking public transport or attending gatherings within the first three days of their arrival, according to Bloomberg news.
The announcements came after Macao eliminated Covid-19 community transmission, meeting China’s requirement for resuming quarantine-free travel. The borders between China and Macao have been closed since 22 June, when Macao’s businesses first closed and a city-wide lockdown began, reports news outlet Yogonet. Initially, casinos had been allowed to remain open but as the outbreak worsened, casinos were also shut down for a two-week period.
During the outbreak, which began on 18 June, there were more than 1,800 cases reported in a city with roughly 680,000 residents. The government implemented a city-wide lockdown as well as multiple rounds of mass testing. Macao adhered to China’s “Covid-zero” policy.
Due to the strict travel restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities, gambling in Macau has seen an all-time gaming revenue low. According to Yogonet, the sector accounts for more than 80% of government revenue, with most people employed directly or indirectly by the casino resorts.The city posted July its worst month ever since records began in 2009, with gross gaming revenue falling 95% to 398 million patacas ($49 million), 98% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
While Macao’s gaming revenue in 2019 was six times the size of casinos in Las Vegas, in the first six months of this year, Macao recorded $3.3 billion in gaming revenue, compared with $4 billion in Las Vegas.
According to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, Macao’s six gaming operators losing millions of dollars of cash a day and are facing a liquidity crunch. The companies are expected to post a US$500 million combined loss for the last quarter, their first since 2020.
As Macao returns to normalcy from the stabilization period, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) will steer various projects forward for tourism recovery after the pandemic subsides. Under the condition that the pandemic situation is stable in Macao, the “Stay, Dine and See Macao” project has resumed hotel staycation experiences and local tours successively. Residents and non-residents in Macao can once again signup at travel agencies under the project to enjoy a wonderful staycation and short trip in Macao before the summer holiday ends.
On condition that the pandemic situation is relatively stable, MGTO is dedicated to great preparations in bolstering travelers’ interest in Macao to fuel tourism and economic activitiesMacao Government Tourism Office
A series of large, medium and small-scale promotional activities are currently under preparation in the Mainland, including the “Macao Week”, the “Greater Bay Area Roadshow”, “Shopping Mall roadshows”, etc. Air tickets and hotel discounts will be promoted to attract visitors to come and spend in Macao during the Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day Golden Week, as well as when Macao holds festive events in order to boost Macao’s tourism economy.
“We will invite the tourism industry to participate in promotion conferences, tourism exhibitions and other activities to provide a platform for the tourism industry to expand business opportunities,” told MGTO to Travel Tomorrow. MGTO also plans to provide financial support to the industry participating in the above activities.
At present, the focus will continue to be the Mainland market. MGTO still targets visitors mainly from cities and areas with direct flights to Macao and cities along the high-speed rail line, covering first-tier and new first-tier cities in East China, North China, Southwest China and Central China.
MGTO has released a new series of videos and posts as part of its active promotional campaign on various official platforms on WeChat, Douyin, Xiaohongshu and so forth. The office has geared up for various promotional offers. Through closer partnerships with e-commerce and online travel platforms, themed travel packages will be rolled out to offer experiences of culinary delights, events and festivals, World Heritage, museums and more highlights in Macao.
1. More tourism events and activities to enhance travelers’ experiences
Unleashing the synergy between “tourism + events”, MGTO will continue in the next half of 2022 to weave different elements of culture and creativity, sports, gastronomy and technology, to optimize travelers’ experience of events and festivals, and lead a greater influx of visitors into communities for sightseeing and consumption, seeking to rebuild robust tourism overall.
As the pandemic subsides, the “Experience Macao, Unlimited” promotional campaign will carry on spotlighting monthly city highlights themed from September to December as “Autumn Delights”, “Festive October”, “November Formula” and “Dazzling Winter” as planned. The campaign will bring the marketing power of local businesses into the picture.
The Macao Grand Prix Museum, under MGTO’s management, has also reopened to visitors. Since its reopening on June 1st 2021, the Museum has kept enriching museum-goers’ experience with a broader variety of elements such as the debut of the 360-degree panoramic view and new AR view feature. Next to the Museum, a Café themed around the Macao Grand Prix was opened to optimize supporting facilities with a touch of leisure, culture and creativity. In the latter half of 2022, the Museum will organize more motorsport-themed activities such as workshops and themed exhibition. A plan is also underway to introduce a new exhibit for interactive multimedia experience to boost the Museum’s attraction, as part of the endeavor to boost the synergy across “tourism + sports”.
In addition to the Fireworks Display in Celebration for the National Day of the People’s Republic of China in 2022, the Macao Light Festival organized by MGTO over the years, is rebranded as “Bright up Macao 2022”, set to dazzle different neighborhoods with 3D mapping shows, light installations, interactive games and more this December. To further integrate different sectors across “tourism +” and incorporate nighttime tourism events with digital technology, MGTO is calling for the public to submit 3D mapping projects to let more local artworks shine in “Bright up Macao 2022”.
2. Macao’s current target tourist market
Affected by the epidemic and anti-epidemic measures, Macao’s current target tourist market is only medium and low-risk areas in the Mainland that can enter Macao without quarantine. Visitors from other areas and International markets cannot come to Macao for the time being.
At the moment, all individuals arriving in Macao from foreign countries, Hong Kong and Taiwan region, as well as areas in the Mainland that are affected by local Covid-19 outbreaks, must undergo 7-days of medical observation at a designated quarantine hotel plus 3-days of self-health management. The MGTO has continued to use online media and tourism platforms to distribute the latest tourism information of Macao in a timely manner to increase the exposure of Macao in overseas markets and to maintain Macao’s popularity in the international market.
The plan is to first target the short-distance market expanding later to the long-distance market, carry out precise marketing for different visitor groups, organize promotional activities, provide discounts with the industry, and launch special tourism products to attract visitors to travel to Macao.Macao Government Tourism Office
Non-resident foreigners are currently not allowed to enter Macao, except special groups which are allowed entry after completing the required quarantine, such as foreign domestic workers, foreign students and families of resident workers could apply for an entry permit from the Health Bureau to enter Macao, as well as non-residents from Portugal who have been allowed to enter Macao again since earlier this year.
The Chief Executive expressed that if Macao’s Covid-19 situation remains stable, the Macao SAR government would study the possibility of once again allowing foreign visitors from more countries to travel to Macao, underlining that they would still be subject to hotel quarantine upon arrival here implementing the same Covid-19 measures as the Mainland.
“We will continue to pay attention to the changes in the surrounding areas and the global epidemic situation, and disseminate promotion work for the market that has the opportunity to open in the future. The plan is to first target the short-distance market expanding later to the long-distance market, carry out precise marketing for different visitor groups, organize promotional activities, provide discounts with the industry, and launch special tourism products to attract visitors to travel to Macao,” stressed MGTO.