Tourism and table drop are returning to Macau with the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) stating on Friday that daily visitor numbers have not fallen below 50,000 since the Chinese New Year holidays. The CNY Lunar New Year fell not long after the government in Beijing relaxed its zero-Covid policy on January 8, opening up travel in the country and lifting border restrictions after years of constricted footfall and revenue flow. The casino business was in serious decline prior to that move.
The Spring Festival Golden Week holiday ran from January 21 through January 27 this year with an average visitor count of about 64,000 – tripling the number of visitors from the same period in 2022. Macau saw a total of 451,000 visitors during Chinese New Year Golden Week this year.
Visitor Numbers Remain Strong
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, MGTO Deputy Director Cheng Wai Tong noted that visitor numbers have remained strong thanks to a shift in the way people are traveling. Also noting that international flights are returning slowly, especially regarding departures to Southeast Asia, he said that a restoration of the flights would result in a first wave of foreign visitors coming from Southeast Asia.
“The end of the Chinese New Year holidays is a low season for self-guided tourists, but the mainland has resumed group tours, so I believe we can increase the number of visitors in the future,” he added.
“The number of group tours is gradually increasing and MGTO will continue to monitor the situation of the tourism industry.”
Earlier reports indicated the MGTO was considering offering incentives to outside travelers such as reduced-price accommodations to visitors from Hong Kong as well as other concessions for people coming in from Taiwan.
However, Friday’s information seems to indicate that may no longer be the case, perhaps because numbers are relatively strong already.
“At present, the MGTO mainly handles group tours from the mainland, while the hotel concessions for Hong Kong visitors are being studied and does not have a timetable for launch,” Cheng explained.
Fewer Players Betting More
While daily visitor numbers are still averaging less than half of what they were before the pandemic, the people who are coming are betting more. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. surveyed players on the mass gaming floors and premium mass players, excluding “whales” or junket rooms from the numbers.
The Citigroup survey observed 490 players gambling at premium mass tables during CNY with an average bet of a little more than $3,000 per hand (US$3082/HKD 24,178). The average bet amount was about 45% higher than it was in the 2019 period of observation. The average minimum bet was still in line with that of 2019 at about $285 (HKD 2,235) per hand across all 15 casinos.
Wynn has reportedly recovered 95% of its table drop compared to pre-Covid levels. The recovery percentages would likely be much less for some of the operators that were still actively hosting junkets and super high roller “tours” in 2019 but have shifted more to mass gaming and other attractions now.
Sports and Tourism to Continue Growth
According to another report from the local outlet, Macau’s Social Affairs and Culture office said on Thursday that all six casino concessionaires will need to submit plans for sporting events in March. The government had required all to commit to non-gaming attractions and is developing a sports with tourism plan to coordinate major events with the operators.
Some events have already been organized and will just need to be coordinated with the government. All six operators are longtime sponsors of the Macau Grand Prix. Other events already in the works include the Galaxy Entertainment Macao International Marathon, Sands China Macao International 10k race, and the MGM MACAU International Regatta.