Following the suspension of COVID-19 prevention measures and zero-COVID policy for the first time in three years, Macau authorities finally allowed tour groups from mainland China to visit the region. Macau is now expecting Chinese tourists to flock to the region during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday.

Adjusting to growing interest:

Despite the massive recent surge in cases in both mainland China and Macau, the only place in China where gambling is allowed expects that tourism will rebound as the Golden Week approaches. The reason for such expectations is seen in booking sites featuring extensive searches for Macau and other tourist hotspots.

Macau’s tourism agencies are quickly adjusting to the situation composing promotional campaigns to capitalize on the policy change. They are further incited to tailor their offerings after Macau recorded 280,000 mainland Chinese visitors in December to indicate further improvements next month. In addition to mainland Chinese tourists, tour groups from Hong Kong have also resumed testifying the growth in visits to Macau from there.

COVID as the major contingency:

However, Macau’s tourism bureau has warned that the recent COVID outbreaks in  China may affect the number of tourists from the mainland. The outbreaks will surely set off some benefits gained by the opening of the popular casino destination, but the festive season is expected to drive the number of tourists to the projected level.

Chinese visitors are still required to meet the 48-hour negative nucleic acid test requirement in various regions, such as the United States pondering COVID testing measures for visitors from China, Hong Kong, and Macau starting from January 5th. The reason for the imposition of these measures follows the COVID reporting policy change by Beijing. Chinese Government no longer releases daily COVID case statistics although around 250 million infections have been reported to date.

More visits from Hong Kong:

At the same time, Hong Kong imposes no restrictions on new arrivals in the region which caused a surge in visitors at the bridge connecting the two regions. The ferry service between Macau and the Hong Kong airport was also resumed on Friday, with announcements that the ferry sailings will soon resume to the Shun Tak ferry terminal to mark a major change after Macau’s three-year isolation.

Arrivals boosting optimism:

Arrivals from Hong Kong are still given a Yellow health code but are allowed into hotels and casinos, therefore the number of arrivals is rising. At the moment when another COVID wave hit the region and deprived casinos of a significant number of staff that had to take a sick leave, a growing number of customers boosts the optimism of Macau operators as to their expectations to see an upturn in operations during the Chinese New Year holiday.

The optimism is on the rise as mainland China has announced that it would fully lift its quarantine requirements for arrivals from January 8th thus clearing the way to the popular casino destination.