10mln visitors possible in 2021: Macau tourism boss

10mln visitors possible in 2021: Macau tourism boss

Macau’s tourism boss says the city might welcome “6 million to 10 million” visitors for 2021. The forecast, at a Wednesday media briefing, was based on the idea of gradual improvement to the market after the imminent, week-long, Chinese New Year break.

The upper figure would still only be a quarter of pre-pandemic levels. Macau had 39.4 million tourists in 2019, a nearly 10-percent rise on the 35.8-million visitor arrivals recorded in 2018, according to official data.

Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes (centre), director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), said in Wednesday’s update, it was “difficult to make” firmer estimates for full-year 2021, due to the “unpredictable” nature of developments relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mainland China is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau, amid existing travel restrictions as countermeasures against Covid-19.

Macau’s tourism bureau expects daily tourist arrivals to reach “30,000” later this year, based on containment of recent Covid-19 outbreaks on the mainland, and the vaccination programme being implemented across the country, said Ms Senna Fernandes.

In January, there were “only a few days” when Macau’s visitor arrivals exceeded 20,000, the tourism official noted.

She was “bearish” on tourism volume for the Chinese New Year holiday, defined by China’s State Council as this year running from Thursday (February 11) to February 17.

Macau could have “16,000 to 20,000” arrivals per day in the period, said the MGTO boss. Mainland authorities have been urging their residents not to travel beyond their home area during Chinese New Year. On that basis it would be “difficult” for Macau’s Chinese New Year-visitor arrivals to reach the 200,000-plus level achieved for the same holiday in 2020, Ms Senna Fernandes explained to the media.

According to MGTO data, Macau saw circa 260,000 tourist arrivals during the week-long Chinese New Year break in 2020, from January 24 to January 30. A majority, i.e., 57.2 percent, were from mainland China. At the time, the tourism bureau noted Covid-19 had already started to hit Macau’s travel trade, meaning 2020 Chinese New Year holiday tourist volumes were down 78 percent year-on-year.

This festive season, Macau’s hotels and guest houses might see an average occupancy rate of “nearly 30 percent”, with those from the three-star to five-star hotels reaching above 30 percent for February 11 to 17, said Ms Senna Fernandes, citing hospitality-sector estimates.

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