China

Tourists Flock Back to Macau over Lunar New Year Break

 

Tourists from mainland China have been flooding back to Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, over the Lunar New Year break.

The return of visitors to the enclave’s casinos and streets is a stark contrast to the lack of arrivals over the past three years.

The resurgence began on January 8, when the special Chinese administrative region dropped all Covid testing requirements for inbound travellers from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Macau welcomed more than 71,000 visitors on Monday, the highest single day record since the pandemic, its government said in a statement late on Tuesday.

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Macau Drops Covid Test Demand For International Arrivals

 

 

Hotels on casino strip sold out

“I come here to gamble, it’s good to see people in Macau. It was lifeless during lockdown and not very good,” said a man surnamed Lam, who travelled to Macau from Jiangmen in nearby Guangdong province in southern China.

More than 94% of visitors to Macau over the first three days of the Lunar New Year, January 21-23, came from mainland China and neighbouring special administrative region Hong Kong.

Average daily visitor arrivals reached more than 51,000, a year-on-year surge of 217%, the government said.

The influx of tourists into the former Portuguese colony, which has had only a trickle of tourists since the start of the pandemic, comes after Beijing reopened its borders with the rest of the world for the first time in three years in January.

Macau had only 15,000 average daily visits in 2022.

“It’s very nice that the Chinese government has reopened the border again, so I can go anywhere freely and do not need to quarantine and visit my relatives,” said a woman visiting from Hong Kong, who gave her surname as Wong.

Many hotel resorts on Macau’s Las Vegas style strip have been sold out for the holiday period, executives said.

Inside the city’s opulent casino resorts, visitors milled through retail stores such as Sands China’s gondola filled Venetian property, while others clamoured for photos at popular tourist spots including the landmark Ruins of St Paul’s.

Local residents said they hoped the rise in visitors would bring a permanent boost to the city’s beleaguered economy.

“It’s a huge difference compared to the lockdown policies during Covid and it feels like the economy can recover quickly, but I am still unemployed now because of Covid,” said a local man surnamed Chan.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

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China Travel Ban Batters Macau Casinos, Wider Economy

 

 

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.

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