Quarantine-free travel between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao is in sight, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong has said.
Outlining his portfolio’s policy guidelines for the coming year at the Legislative Assembly last Friday, Lei also pledged that the government will continue to ask the central government to allow mainland tour groups to come to Macao again next year.
Hong Kong has been working to ensure that its entry, quarantine and other Covid-19 measures are carried out in coordination with the mainland, in a bid to persuade the authorities to lift their mandatory quarantine for arrivals from Hong Kong.
Last week, Health Bureau (SSM) officials said that Macao could lift its quarantine for arrivals from Hong Kong once quarantine-free travel has been arranged between the mainland and Hong Kong.
Currently, travellers between the mainland and Macao do not need to quarantine upon arrival, but do need to present a nucleic acid test certificate confirming a negative Covid-19 result valid for seven days.
Travellers from Hong Kong must undergo 14 days’ hotel quarantine upon arrival in the mainland or in Macao.
Hong Kong residents returning from the mainland or Macao can apply online to be exempted from the Hong Kong government’s quarantine requirement.
Lei told the Legislative Assembly that before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year, mainlanders had accounted for about 70 per cent of Macao’s visitors, while Hong Kong visitors had made up 19 per cent. Lei said that as the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao brought their Covid-19 measures into alignment, he believed that “free” travel arrangements between the three regions “can be expected in the near future”.
Lei pledged that the Macao government will continue to improve its Covid-19 measures, which he said would be beneficial to the government’s discussion with its mainland counterpart on the possible resumption of tour groups from the mainland being allowed to visit Macao again.
Lei said the government will strengthen its promotional campaigns next year to welcome more visitors to the city. He also urged “everybody” in civil society to work with the government to attract repeat visitors.
According to Lei, research by the Macao Government Tourism Office indicates that travellers aged between 24 and 35 are currently the city’s biggest visitor segment. He said the government will work to diversify experiences enjoyed by Macao’s visitors through its various “tourism+” schemes, which aim to merge tourism with other business sectors such as MICE and e-commerce to boost the city’s economy.
Lei concluded by saying that “without visitors, the export of services which accounts for the biggest part of Macao’s GDP is certainly hard hit”, adding that the number of visitors to Macao has significantly recovered since Zhuhai lifted its mandatory quarantine for arrivals from Macao on 19 October, The Macau Post Daily reported.