Golden Week loses shine as visitor numbers fall 78.3pct y-on-y

The number of Macau visitors during the Chinese New Year holiday period between January 24 and 30 – known as ‘Golden Week’ – saw a 78.3 per cent year-on-year fall to 261,069, data provided today by tourism authorities reveal.

Just considering visitors from mainland China, numbers have dropped dramatically by 83.3 per cent year-on-year to about 149,244 people.

The largest single-day drop was recorded on the sixth day of the holiday period (January 30), with a 89.2 per cent year-on-year drop registered.

The World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the new coronavirus, as China reported today the death toll had climbed to 213 with nearly 10,000 infections, more than the number of people infected during the SARS crisis.

So far, seven confirmed cases of the novel virus were reported in Macau, all Wuhan residents.

Measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak and fears by visitors themselves to travel between Greater China, have been described as some of the reasons for the large decrease in visitation numbers.

Ferry services between Macau and Hong Kong have also been reduced or suspended, almost 1,000 flights passing through the Macau International Airport have been canceled, while the frequency of shuttle buses in the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has been reduced.

Local authorities have already barred travel groups from Wuhan and Hubei province, with any resident from that region, or anyone who passed through them in the last 14 days having to show a health certificate certifying they have not been infected.

Currently, anyone entering Macau also has to fill a health questionnaire and undergo body temperature checks, with opening scheduled for some borders also reduced.

On Tuesday it was revealed that authorities in mainland China have stopped issuing individual travel visas (ITV) for visits to Macau and Hong Kong by mainland residents, effectively barring solo travel to the SARs, and with most VIP players usually recurring to this scheme to come to the city.

Analysts from Morningstar and Fitch Ratings also indicated to Macau News Agency (MNA) today that the coronavirus outbreak and respective travel restrictions imposed to contain it will likely have a significant but short-term impact on the local gaming sector results.