Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said on Thursday that Macao looks forward to welcoming tourists from Hong Kong once the neighbouring SAR is deemed a ‘low-risk’ city.
Speaking on the sidelines of the government’s National Day reception, Ho said that “In view of current developments regarding COVID-19 in overseas countries, it would be less likely, in the short term, that Macao would either allow foreigners to enter Macao or foreign non-resident workers to re-enter the city”.
The chief executive also said that the government expected only a modest amount of tourists to visit Macao during the National Day holiday period due to epidemic control measures in place in the territory.
According to the Government Information Bureau (GCS), Ho said that he expected that the flow of tourists during the holiday period might amount to 20,000 arrivals daily.
The chief executive also said the daily flow of visitors from the mainland was below 20,000, namely in the range of 18,000 to 19,000 and noted that it would take some time for arrivals to recover to a level seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expectations on visitor flow took into account the fact that the holiday coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival, a time for family gatherings, thus possibly presenting people with a reason to delay an outbound trip, he said.
Ho noted that Macao’s requirements – in relation to the health status of visitors – were different from those in place in mainland cities and he gave as an example the fact that people moving in and out of mainland cities that were classified as ‘low risk’ in relation to COVID-19 were exempted from providing a test certificate showing they are negative from COVID-19 infection.
Also, the online method of applying for a visa under the facilitated Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) for mainland China residents wishing to visit Macao as tourists had not yet been resumed, which might also affect mainland residents’ plans for visiting Macao, Ho said, quoted by GCS.
In comments regarding existing entry policies, Ho said the Macao government had been maintaining close communication with the National Health Commission concerning any scientific grounds that might arise to enable relaxation of entry policies applicable to Macao.
The chief executive also told journalists that the government was closely monitoring the economic impact wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and stated that launching further economic relief measures was not a step that could benefit the city in the long run.
“As the facilitated individual travel scheme had resumed, the government had no plans to introduce further relief measures. This was with a view to saving public funds,” Ho said.
The two rounds of relief measures that had been instituted took into account the earlier suspension of the facilitated individual travel scheme, he added.