(Xinhua/Tian Jianchuan)

Gov’t has resumed efforts to bring back mainland tour group visits, expand entry of non-residents – CE

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng stated today (Tuesday) that after the local community outbreak was brought under control and the state of immediate prevention lifted on August 3, authorities resumed efforts to try and resume tour group travel from the Mainland and expand the entry of non-residents from other overseas countries.

Speaking during a Legislative Assembly session to respond to queries from legislators, Ho also revealed that right after the state of immediate prevention was lifted the SAR Secretary for Economy and Finance resumed contacts with the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism to attempt to reinstate visa applications for tour groups.

While individual tourist visas for mainland travellers coming to Macau have been resumed since August, 2020 applications for tour group visas – which previously accounted for almost half of the SAR’s visitation – have remained suspended until now.

Legislator Song Pek Kei questioned what efforts were being advanced to attract more mainland tourists and boost the economic recovery of the city, and specifically asked for more efforts to attract tourists from second-tier cities.

In Mainland China, first-tier cities include cities with more than 15 million people, while the second tier includes cities of three to 15 million people.

“There is a market of 1.4 billion people in China but we are not preparing any specific opening on one city first or another. […] We also do not differentiate efforts for first-tier or second-tier cities, every tourist is welcome to come to Macau,” he added.

“Any easing of this policy will depend on the central government. We will continue to fight to have more tourists come”

Average daily travel in/out of Macau had recovered gradually to some 6,400 last week, a 771 per cent jump when compared to 734 of the previous week.

As the worst community outbreak in the city was brought under control, daily visitation gradually approached some 20,000 since August 3, a recovery that could now be again hampered by the new Zhuhai border policies.

Ho underlined that mainland tourists are worried that changes in pandemic control policies could lead them to not be able to return home during the travel period, with many tourists avoiding any travel at this stage.

As an example, the CE mentioned the recent outbreak in Hainan, which led to some 80,000 visitors being started in Sanya, the island’s main tourist hub after a lockdown was imposed last Saturday.

“Therefore, we have constantly promoted Macau as a safe travel destination and that there is no need for tourists to quarantine when returning home,” Ho added.

As for overseas tourists, Ho noted that the SAR had already opened to non-residents from Portugal, which are allowed entry after completing the required quarantine, currently at seven days and three days of health self-management.

“If the epidemic situation continues to stabilize, we will study opening up more people from overseas countries. Other countries are interested in having their citizens enter even with quarantine” he added.

“We were carrying out this study [before the recent outbreak started on June 18] which led us to suspend it”