Chinese New Year showing signs of improvement – Macau Hotel Association President

[Corection on 7th paragraph from October 1 national day holiday period to the May labour day holiday period]

The President of the Macau Hotel Association, Rutger Verschuren, told Macau News Agency that the Chinese New Year holiday period showed signs of improvement in the sector when compared to the past months and even with the 2020 December holidays.

“Doing the math, counting 10,000 visitors per day, and assuming two persons per room staying for two nights, and some 38,000 rooms available, total occupancy is around 35 per cent. Adding to that local staycations, the average occupancy could be 40-50 per cent,” Verschuren told MNA.

For the first five days of the festive period between February 11 and 15, some 62,984 visitors entered the SAR, a 71.6 per cent year-on-year drop from the festive period of last year.

According to the Macau Hotel Association President, hotel occupancy during the still ongoing Chinese New Year was likely leaning strongly towards the large integrated resorts in Cotai, thanks to special deals provided by casino partners.

“This year is special as the rates across town are very affordable, designed to drive volume. Hotel restaurants also good business, thanks to locals and visitors, including the many daytrippers from across the border,” Verschuren added.

However, the sector representative warned that traditionally occupancy rates tend to slide after the Chinese New Year, something expected to happen again this year.

“Our business remains extremely tough for the coming months, and we can’t wait for the next Golden Week period,” Verschuren noted referring to the Labour Day holiday period starting on May 1.

Prior to the spring festival period the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, indicated that hotel bookings were trending at a 30 per cent on average, higher for 3 to 5-star hotels and on single digits for low-cost hotels.

The local hotel occupancy rate reached 70 per cent during the Christmas holiday period from December 23 to 27 last year after an average of 24,000 visitors per day, the second-highest figure recorded since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Still, the overall average occupancy rate of guest rooms for the whole of 2020 dropped to just 28.6 per cent and with December finishing with a 53 per cent rate, still far from the usual 90 per cent or above rates witnessed regularly in pre-pandemic times.

The growth in local infection cases reported in Mainland China since the beginning of the year has also led to several provinces in the country issued notices suggesting for residents to avoid returning to their hometown for the holidays or travel within the country, compounding the rate of recovery witnessed in recent months.

Tourism authorities have predicted 2021 will finish with visitor numbers between 6 to 10 million, a slight improvement from the 5.9 million reported during 2020.