Analysis | Zhuhai residents signal not ready to return to Macau

Visitor arrivals last weekend remained stagnant, suggesting that Zhuhai residents are not ready to resume vacationing in Macau. The Public Security Police Force (PSP), which oversees immigration matters in Macau, said that it was not expecting tourists to return en masse until visa issuance is resumed across the country.
Zhuhai began reissuing tourism visas for Macau visits on August 12, as part of a pilot for the rest of the country. The resumption of exit visas for mainland visitors will be expanded to the rest of Guangdong Province starting tomorrow, and the entire mainland from September 23.
As Macau Daily Times earlier reported, processing times for new tourism visas to travel to Macau now take about seven days. That means that last weekend was the first to potentially benefit from increased visitation since the travel restrictions were eased.
However, according to PSP data made public during yesterday’s briefing by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, there was no significant change in the number of daily border crossings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Macau recorded 255,500 border crossings on Friday, followed by 242,900 on Saturday and 215,000 on Sunday. Of this amount, between 7,000 and 9,000 visitor entries were recorded on each day, more or less unchanged from the month’s average.
Ma Chio Hong, head of the Division of Operation and Communications at the PSP, said that he did not expect a significant number of tourists to return to Macau before restrictions were eased across the mainland on September 23.
“After the resumption […] in Zhuhai, there has surely been an increase in visitor arrivals using travel permit from mainland China. Nonetheless, generally speaking, we can’t see a leap in visitor arrivals,” said to the division chief. “The reason is that currently the application process has only resumed in Zhuhai. I believe when applications for travel permits resume across the entire mainland, we will see a significant increase in visitor arrivals.”
Last year mainland China accounted for about two-thirds of Macau’s arrivals, with approximately 40% coming from the nine mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area. More than 8% of mainland China arrivals came from Zhuhai alone.
Visitor arrivals have tracked at near-zero levels since February, causing severe disruption to Macau’s economic pillars of gaming, tourism and retail. The city’s gross domestic product contracted by 67.8% in year-on-year terms in the second quarter, driven by a 93.9% decline in the export of tourism services and a 97.1% fall in casino business.
Chief Executive believes it is essential to convince mainland residents that Macau is a safe place to visit. Although visitors from the mainland city of Zhuhai can now cross into Macau for tourism purposes, they must still possess a negative virus test and present a valid health declaration.
Authorities on both sides of the border previously said that the travel restrictions could be reintroduced if a single locally-transmitted case of is detected in Macau.

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