Visitor volume expected to recover to 35,000 daily entries during October Golden Week – Tourism authorities

Tourism authorities are confident the October National Day Golden Week will see daily tourist arrivals recover to 35,000, with hotel occupancy rates reaching 80 per cent, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes said today (Thursday).

Ms. Fernandes made the comments after a talk centred on the local tourism market amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Macau today.

The pandemic caused one of the lowest visitor volumes ever reported in the SAR for a Golden Week holiday period in 2020, just 139,280 visitors and 85.7 per cent year-on-year drop.

The October Golden Week usually incorporates the Mid-Autumn Festival and the October 1 National Day, lasting until October 8.

August reported a considerable dip in visitation to 13,000 following the discovery of four local Covid-19 cases, while the occupancy rate at local hotels dropping to as low as 30 per cent.

Visitor numbers then bounced back to about 30,000 visitor entries this month, with Fernances confident the recovery will continue if no more unexpected pandemic turns to take place.

Tourism authorities are also planning to organise two drone shows during the Golden Week involving almost 300 drones on October 1 and another on October 3, with three similar shows to be organised later in the month.

“We are hoping for very good weather because the drones are very vulnerable to rain and wind. There will be two performances per night on the selected days, 7:30pm and 9:30pm […]. We are attempting to organise more interesting events during the Golden Week so we can attract new visitors to come in, not just the usual visitors that would come anyway,” Fernandes added.

The opening of the new Qingmao Border – which has a capacity for 200,000 daily crossing s- was also expected to ease foot traffic flows during the holiday period.

The MGTO Director also indicated authorities were hopeful tour group visas could be established before the Golden Week, however as it is not likely this will happen the 35,000 daily projection would probably be the most likely tally.

Visitor arrivals reached 4.7 million between January and July, with Fernandes describing some noteworthy changes in the average age of visitors and spending when compared to before the pandemic.

For example, during that period about 35 per cent of all visitors were aged 16-34 showing that “a younger crowd is not visiting the city as room prices became more attractive”, with the average stay duration also rising to 3 days.

“We are focusing more on quality than quantity when it comes to attracting tourists at the moment […] Last year we signed an agreement with tourism authorities in the Greater Bay Area to work on tourism management and exchange of information concerning controlling irregularities and fight any possibility of ‘zero-cost tours’. We want to raise the bar in terms of tourism quality in the GBA,” Fernandes stated.

Zer-cost torus refers to free or discount packaged tours offered d y agencies, where costs are often subsidised by retail stores, which in exchange require the tour group to make compulsory shopping stops.

Data provided during the presentation also showed that total visitor expenditure between January and June reached some MOP8.5 billion, an amount almost exceeding the entire MOP8.6 billion reported in 2020 but still far from the US$40.4 billion reported in pre-pandemic times in 2019.

However, Fernandes noted the percentage of visitor expenditure represented by gaming has decreased notably to 58 per cent of the total, with the remaining mainly represented by retail shopping.

The average spending per visitor (excluding gaming) – reported in the second quarter of this year, US$408.9 was in fact double the amount reported in 2019.

During the presentation Fernandes also revealed that some 15 hotels, apart-hotels and guesthouses are currently undergoing the licensing process, representing some 2,750 hotel rooms to add to the 35,600 room total.

(Xinhua/Tian Jianchuan)

Just two of these were 5-star hotels – such as Galaxy’s Phase 2 Andaz Macau – but with just these two properties representing some 1,320 new rooms.

The MGTO Director also expressed authorities have made great efforts to collaborate with mainland e-commerce and social media platforms to promote the city as a safe destination to tourists.

Thes included two discount voucher promotion initiatives held last year, one offering RMB149 million in hotel discount vouchers in partnership with Tencent WeChat Pay, Ctrip; and another offering discounted tickets for Air Macau trips, in partnership with Alibaba, Fliggy, Qunar, Ctrip and Tongcheng.