Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat seng announced Saturday that mainland China will reinstate both package tours to Macau and eVisas under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) in what shapes as a massive boost for the SAR’s gaming and tourism operators.
The tours and eVisas for mainlanders to visit Macau have been cancelled since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, with the absence of the eVisa system meaning mainland visitors have had to return to their place of origin to apply in person for a Macau visa.
At a press conference on Saturday, the Chief Executive said the Macau government had spoken at length with China’s central government about the situation in Macau.
“For the people of Macau, the economy has been greatly affected after the epidemic and Macau is facing a very difficult time,” he stated.
Ho said it would take a month to prepare for the resumption of electronic visa applications and tours for mainland visitors to Macau, which will resume in November. The first phase will reopen for four provinces and one city in Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian.
Of the 27.9 million mainland Chinese visitors to Macau in 2019 – prior to the pandemic – 13.1 million of them travelled under the Individual Visit Scheme and the vast majority of those utilized eVisas.
The long-awaited positive news comes just weeks after the Macau government also initiated the first phase of reopening to the world with visitors from 41 countries now permitted to enter, although they still must undergo seven days of hotel quarantine and three days of self-monitoring at the place of residence.
Hong Kong announced on Friday that it was scrapping its hotel quarantine system altogether, however Ho said Macau is not in a position to follow suit.
“Macau must maintain the same approach to epidemic prevention as the mainland in order to be recognized by the mainland,” he said.