Macao’s tourism industry is facing stark times ahead, with some hotels coping with single-digit occupancy and little sign of substantial numbers of visitors returning in the near future.
Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes has said that she is “not too optimistic” about the number of visitors during Chinese New Year, which are expected to be just 16,000 to 20,000 per day.
According to Senna Fernandes, only a few days in January exceeded 20,000 visitors. She added that many hotels in Macao are reporting an expected occupancy rate of around 30 per cent during the holiday period, however, some two-star properties are looking at single-digit reservations.
Senna Fernandes said the MGTO would strive to raise the number of visitor arrivals to 30,000 per day, adding she hoped that there will be six to 10 million visitor arrivals this year.
According to the Statistics and Census Bureau, Macao recorded 5.89 million visitor arrivals last year, a year-on-year decline of 85 per cent from the 39.4 million visitor arrivals in 2019.
When asked whether Macao’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, which started on Tuesday, would help with boost tourism, Senna Fernandes said that according to scientists, only if 60 per cent of the world’s population gets vaccinated could herd immunity be achieved, adding that she didn’t expect a full recovery soon.
Senna Fernandes admitted that 2020 has been a difficult year for tourism in the city, noting that by October last year four new travel agencies had opened, ten closed down for good and 33 were temporarily closed. She added that three more travel agencies closed down last month. She also noted that during the peak impact of the pandemic on Macao, 33 hotels and guesthouses were temporarily closed, while now 30 have reopened.
Senna Fernandes said that this year the MGTO would pursue five major goals – deepening “tourism +”, reviewing the “Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan”, encouraging visitations, optimising iconic events and products, and streamlining government services.
Senna Fernandes explained that “tourism +” refers to reshaping the connection between tourism and gaming, MICE, culture and creativity, e-commerce, and sport. She said that through developing new tourism products, the industry could promote its extensive growth as well as strengthen cross-sector integration.
MGTO Deputy Director Ricky Hoi Io Meng reported that last year 3.87 million visitors stayed at Macao’s hotels and guesthouses, resulting in a 72.5 per cent decrease year-on-year. He also noted that the average room rate for a three- to five-star hotel now stands at around US$115 (MOP 918), a 32.4 per cent decrease from 2019.
According to the Macau Post Daily, he also pointed out that in order to attract visitors from the mainland, MGTO gave out 1.37 million consumption coupons, which cost the government around RMB 13.6 million but, according to MGTO estimates, injected MOP 315 million patacas into Macao’s economy. He also noted that the average duration of visitors’ stay last year was around 2.8 nights, an increase from the 2.2 nights in 2019.