Tourist visas resumption “great news” for local gaming, recovery will take time – Analysts

Gambling experts told Lusa that the return of tourist visas to Macau for the whole of China in September is “big news” for the local gambling industry, but warned that the recovery will take time.

“It will be a great help for Macau. It is great news, but it will be a long way to reach the level of the results of 2019 ”, before the pandemic of the new coronavirus, underlined Ben Lee, an analyst at the gaming consultant IGamix.

“It is great news, excellent news. It was what everyone wanted. I thought it would be phased, but it was faster than expected,” said Glenn McCartney, professor of International Integrated Resort Management at the University of Macau.

“The city is ready, the industry [tourism linked to the game] is ready, but it is necessary to maintain monitoring mechanisms so that afterwards there is no need to close the territory again”, defended the professor.

As for predictions, there is a lot to consider, in a “scenario where everything has changed in the space of six months”, from “consumption habits to behavior on the road” that raise questions: “will they stay longer, spend more money, or the otherwise? ”, stressed the expert, stressing that reaching the level of 2019 will probably need to go“ a long way ”.

Ben Lee recalled that even before the pandemic, there were some signs that pointed to a decline in gambling revenues, largely because of the trade war between the United States and China, with an impact on the neighbouring province of Guangdong, where most of the city’s Chinese tourists come from.

“The first source is China, and in particular Guangdong, with export-related entrepreneurs being very affected, before with the trade war and then with the pandemic,” he said.

“It is the resumption of recovery”, but the very bet on the VIP segment, of high stakes, very dependent on promoters and affected by some restrictions from the authorities, will face many difficulties before returning to last year’s levels, he added.

China plans to authorize the issuance of tourist visas to Macau across the country starting September 23, according to an online notice published by the National Immigration Administration.

Chinese officials have also indicated that after the Chinese city of Zhuhai today (Wednesday), the issuance of individual and group visas will be extended to the entire province of Guangdong on 26 August.

In both cases, the National Immigration Administration has warned that the dates will only be maintained if the pandemic situation remains stable.

The issuance of tourist visas for entering Macau is a measure considered essential to revitalize the gaming industry in the world capital of casinos, with Zhuhai to be the ‘test’ city.

Macau has no active case and has yet to report any community transmission of the new coronavirus.

Local economy has suffered an unprecedented downturn in both casinos and visitor arrivals since late January, when the first wave of COVID-19 cases detected in the territory occurred.

Of the hundreds of millions of euros of game profits, Macau operators are now announcing losses on operations that include integrated resorts, largely because of border restrictions imposed.

In 2019, Macau registered almost 40 million visitors. In May alone, the number of visitors from the interior of China, the largest tourist market in the territory, dropped by 99.4 per cent in annual terms.

The covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 733,000 deaths and infected more than 20 million people in 196 countries and territories, according to a report by the France-Presse news agency (AFP).