The Macau SAR government is discussing the resumption of e-visa for the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) with the mainland government, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, said Wednesday.
Visitor arrivals have fallen substantially during the Chinese New Year holiday, impacted by China’s “stay in place” policy, with figures supplied by the Public Security Police Force showing a 68.2% decline in arrivals to just 77,383 over the first six days of Golden Week from 10 to 16 February. It is also 33.1% lower than the previous week from 3 to 9 February.
The MGTO director said several cities and provinces in the mainland had discouraged citizens to travel abroad and that the suspension of IVS e-visa had made mainland visitors hesitant.
“Mainland visitors have to apply for IVS in person, so we keep fighting for the resumption of IVS e-visa with the mainland government, but we also need to give more time for relief,” Senna Fernandes said.
The return of e-visa is seen as the key to providing a significant boost in visitation from mainland China to Macau, with Bernstein’s Vitaly Umansky and Tianjiao Yu writing in their weekly GGR updates, “We expect visitation to increase only slowly over the next months (assuming travel restrictions due to COVID are not increased).
“The key jump in visitors will come when visa processing switches back to digital and same day, which may take some time. We are not likely to see material alleviation of bottlenecks in the near term.”
On Wednesday, Senna Fernandes said she expects visitor numbers to recover after the CNY holiday, but noted raw numbers would not be the MGTO’s focus in the future.
“What we should do in the future is to attract visitors to stay longer in Macau rather than chasing the numbers,” she said. “We should increase attractions in Macau, and we hope that package tours from the mainland will be resumed soon.”
Macau’s Grand Coloane Resort this week joined the Sheraton Grand Macao, Lisboeta, and Regency Art Hotel as optional quarantine hotels.
However, more areas across mainland China have now been removed from Macau’s mandatory quarantine list. As of 18 February, the SAR still requires quarantine for anyone that has been to the following areas in the past 14 days:
Hebei Province: All of Shijiazhuang City
Beijing City: Tiangongyuan Subdistrict of Daxing District
Heilongjiang Province: Suihua City, Limin Development Zone and Hulan District of Harbin City
Jilin Province: All of Tonghua city
Shanghai City: Gaodong Town in Pudong New Area