Macau Gets a Boost, but Not For LongPublished May 6, 2021 by Lee R
Macau has record rebound highs, but is it sustainable?
Macau reported some encouraging news, or was it?
A weekend tally indicating the highest single-day visitor count since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was positive news, with things likely to go in the opposite direction upon further review.
Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) reports 34,252 visitors entered the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) last Friday, April 16, for the highest single count since January 2020, with hotel occupancy at 61 percent between April 9-15.
That represents a 12.7 percent event-on-event improvement from Spring Festival Golden Week in February (48.3 percent occupancy), and reflects a welcome wave of activity.
An MGTO statement characterised the numbers as a “steady upward trend in visitor arrivals,” with casinos the main beneficiaries in the historically gambling-reliant island administrative region.
To wit, GGR for Macau's casinos in March came in at MOP8.31 billion (US$1.04 billion), for the best showing since the pandemic shutdowns in which Macau closed its borders in February 2020.
Air Traffic Increases
Air traffic at Macau International Airport picked up to supplement increased entry at border gates and crossings.
Macau airport expects to handle some 125,000 passengers in April, for a 25 percent jump from March (99,472 flyers).
Other Side of the Coin
That's the good news.
The not so good context is that this is not an official rebound, with rising Covid cases across South Asia increasing the possibility of more shutdowns and travel restrictions, with the first sign being Macau's announcement last Sunday imposing new quarantine requirements restrictions on border entrants, with leading hotels and resorts being designated to host quarantine.
In this time and era, a step-forward steps-back approach is likely to continue for some time in Macau. Economically, the damage comes off as more egregious because Macau is dependent on gaming.
Nonetheless, to see Macau show the logistical ability to absorb the changes has to be taken as a good sign for the long term chances of as sustained a recovery as circumstances allow. The next signpost of recovery for Macau is May's Labor day holiday, in which a decent “40 percent to 50 percent” for the upcoming Labor Day holiday in May.