On Tuesday, Fernando Chui Sai, the Chief Executive of Macau, spoke to local media, stating that the government of Macau is not currently interested in increasing the visitor arrivals from mainland China. The government is also not actively requesting that the Individual Visit Scheme be expanded.
Chui was asked about discussions with mainland China officials by local reporters in regards to the Stat Council’s comments earlier this month which showed that the IVS policy would be assessed as to how it could be optimized or adjusted for mainland visitors who are traveling to Hong Kong and Macau.
Introduced in mid-2003, the IVS policy gives individuals of designated cities of mainland China the option to apply for a visa to travel independently to Hong Kong or Macau. 49 cities are currently eligible in China to apply for travel to both areas with the IVS program.
Chui stated that talks with mainland officials in regards to the IVS policy were done in order to ensure that the quality of life for residents is not highly influenced and that the demands of Chinese tourists who choose to travel to Macau are met. Chui reiterated that an increase in the number of visitors from mainland China is not being actively requested nor is the option to add more cities from the mainland to the IVS policy.
The authorities of the mainland as well as the government of Macau know of the potential for a negative impact that could take place if a sudden increase in the visitor numbers to the city, stated Chui. In 2015, the city saw 30.7 million visitors, which is a 2.6% decrease in annual visitors, based on official data.
Details on how the IVS policy may be changed have not been announced, but Chu did state that the government of Macau has reviewed the impact of IVS and will continue to assess the program with the authorities of mainland China.