A representative of the Travel Industry Council of Macau has said that tourists from neighbouring Guangdong are likely to be the primary component of Macau’s visitors during the upcoming Golden Week holiday starting on Thursday (October 1).
However, because of the ongoing economic and social effect of Covid-19 in mainland China this year, the tourist volume may be well below half that reported in the same span last year, said Wong Fai, the trade body ‘s director.
Applications for tourist visas, including those under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS), have resumed nationally in mainland China beginning on September 23. The application procedures for travellers from across Guangdong were restored, with effect from 26 August.
“For this Golden Week, if we could see at least 30 percent of the visitor volume we had in the same period last year it would be pretty satisfactory,” Mr. Wong said. This year, China’s Autumn Golden Week runs from October 1 to October 8, which is one day more than last year’s same holiday.
According to Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) statistics, Macau received 984,996 tourists during Autumn Golden Week in 2019, 81 percent of them from mainland China.
“We expect that for this upcoming Golden Week, Guangdong visitors should remain our main source of tourists,” Mr Wong said.
He noticed that it now takes longer-at least seven working days-to grant exit visas for tourism across mainland China compared to before Covid-19, when the process was automated. Today, mainland residents have to apply for visas in person at the appropriate government office and go through a manual application process.
“We did also receive some news that certain institutions – such as some state-owned enterprises and schools – have advised their people not to leave their [mainland] city or province of residence during the long holiday,” Mr Wong stated.
“We saw examples like this in Guangdong. But we do not think that this is a nationwide, government requirement but rather decisions made by some institutions on the mainland, as a precaution against Covid-19 infection.”
In the middle or latter half of the Golden Week vacation season, the travel industry council boss said he hoped to see a greater number of mainland Chinese tourists from beyond Guangdong province going to Macau.
According to local media reports, searches for Macau-related tourism goods soared last week on the Chinese online tourism booking website, Ctrip.com. Trip.com Group, a provider of online travel services operated by Ctrip, Skyscanner and Qunar, has partnered with the government of Macau to promote the tourism offerings of the city to mainland Chinese consumers.
“We did see increasing enquiries [from mainland Chinese tourists] about the offers here when we are now closer to the Golden Week vacation,” Mr Wong told us.
“The hotel occupancy here will definitely improve in this holiday period from the preceding months, but possibly not to the point of full occupancy,” at any properties, he added.