(Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Negotiations on-going for “trial” policies to ease movement restrictions with Guangdong – CE

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng revealed today (Tuesday) that authorities are in discussions with Guangdong authorities for some possible “trial policies” that could improve the number of tourists coming to Macau, including a possible mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.

Despite an improvement from last year visitor numbers in the city have remained at levels considerably lower than in pre-pandemic times, with almost all visitors hailing from Mainland China, and especially from Guangdong province.

“The nucleic acid test requirement can sometimes be an obstacle for tourists. We have to consider ways to alleviate restrictions. We are currently negotiating with Guangdong authorities if we advance with some trial policies to ease mobility,” Ho stated.

“If we can develop some mutual recognition of nucleic acid tests or vaccination this could contribute positively for tourism mobility”

However, the CE admitted that the time required between the necessary for receiving the necessary two vaccines doses for full immunity could delay the efforts to achieve a vaccination rate that could allow for such measures to be imposed.

A total of 67,431 vaccine doses have been administered in Macau as of yesterday with either the Sinopharm or BioNTech vaccine, however, 22,593 people in Macau had received the necessary two doses, with a 28 period required between the two jabs.

Guangdong Province had administered a total of around 10.19 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of last year, with 2.16 million people having received two doses.

Ho made the comments while responding to an inquiry by legislator Wan Sai man at the Legislative Assembly (AL), who considered that the recently announced consumer stimulus programme could not fully assist SMEs depending on visitor numbers and what efforts will be advanced to recover the tourism sector.

Daily visitor arrivals to and departures from Macau were between 34,200 to 47,500 per day from March 31 to April 6, up from 30,000 to 40,000 earlier this year but lower than in March, when the average was about 49,000 per day.

Some 983,887 visitors entered Macau between January and February, still a number 67 per cent lower than the same two months of last year.

Currently, visitors coming from mainland China are still required to present a valid negative nucleic acid test, while tour group visas have yet to be reinstated and procedures to apply for individual tourist visas to visit the SAR have yet to be simplified.

These policies, together with the removal of quarantine restrictions for Hong Kong visitors have been described as crucial elements to recover local visitation numbers, and consequentially gaming revenues.

Ho also indicated that efforts will be made to try to ease travel policies for Hong Kong travellers, who are still required to carry out a 14-day quarantine upon entry in Macau, but that protecting the local health situation was the main focus of authorities.

No local confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported in Macau for 380 consecutive days.

Aside from such policies, authorities will focus on promotional campaigns in the mainland, similar to initiatives carried out in Hangzhou, Beijing and the southeast regions of Mainland China by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO).

“In other regions, we will carry out promotional activities to attract more tourists to travel to Macau, offering incentives, discounts in purchasing flight tickets, rooms, etc,” Ho stated.