Macau-Guangdong’s new travel rules are hurting tourism, Rep says

Stricter health checks for travel between mainland Guangdong Province and Macau is expected to dampen mainland consumer demand for Macau tourism services, including hotel accommodation, for the remainder of this month, Macau Travel Industry Council President Andy Wu Keng Kuong said in response at a request from GGRAsia.

The new controls are in response to new cases of Covid-19 infection reported in Guangdong.

As of Tuesday (June 8) at 10 a.m., people wishing to travel to Macau from Guangdong will have to present a “negative” test certificate for Covid-19 infection, which must have been issued within the last 48 hours, health officials said Macau on Monday morning

Prior to this new requirement, such travelers were required to provide a negative Covid-19 infection test report within seven days of their intended arrival in Macau.

The more stringent testing requirements would likely have a “big impact” on tourism in Macau in June, including hotel occupancy, Mr. Wu told us.

For now, he added, the impact appears to be from consumers being cautious rather than changing public policy regarding the issuance of mainland visas for Macau.

“At the moment, we haven’t heard any changes to the existing process for issuing tourist visas on the mainland,” said Wu.

In Monday’s announcement, Macau health officials mentioned the possibility that future travelers between Guangdong and Macau may be required to provide a certificate stating that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as a current test certificate.

Mr. Wu told GGRAsia, “We have about a month until the summer season and we are confident that the authorities in mainland China have an opportunity to bring the spread of Covid-19 infection under control in Guangdong soon.”

The travel agent had told before GGRAsia about the optimistic assessment of his association with regard to the daily visitor numbers and the average hotel occupancy for July and August, which coincide with the school summer holidays and family trips away.

But he told GGRAsia on Monday that it was “very difficult” to make predictions about developments in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic at the moment. “We now hope that the spread of the infection in Guangdong can be contained quickly,” he said.

The tightened immigration policy for travel from Guangdong to Macau would “undoubtedly weigh on demand” and “slow down” the city’s sequential recovery in the gambling and tourism trade in the past six months, suggested JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific). Ltd, in a Monday memo.

“Guangdong is that largest feeder market for Macau (61 percent of mainland visitors since the beginning of the year) and also serves as a gateway to other provinces, as more than 90 percent of the mainland residents entered Macau via Zhuhai (with high-speed trains or the Guangzhou / Zhuhai airports), while direct air travelers make up only 6 percent of the visitor volume to Macau, wrote JP Morgan analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Livy Lyu.

The JP Morgan team also said it anticipates a hoped-for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau travel bubble will not occur “in a very short time”. Such travel facilitation would only come if Guangdong Province and Hong Kong each did not report any local infection cases for more than two weeks, the analysts suggested.