Macau international visitation numbers during the three-day New Year’s holiday from December 31, 2022, to January 2, 2023, plunged compared to the same period in the year before.
Down between 33% and 42%
The Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China saw an aggregate of around 62,000 tourists for the holiday, bringing the total number of visitations including local comings and goings to 352,000 and registering an average of under 21,000 per day.
Macau welcomed the highest number of international arrivals on New Year’s Eve, 28,000, and that number fell to just 18,000 on the first day of 2023. In comparison, the same three-day period in 2021 registered 42,000 on New Year’s Eve and 31,000 on New Year’s Day.
Compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019 where there were 241,000 new international arrivals on New Year’s Eve alone, Macau’s visitations are far from recovering and placing doubts on local officials’ expectations that the SAR would climb up to 40,000 daily average visitations after China abandoned its zero-COVID policy.
High Expectations for the Chinese New Year
Following the announcement that the quarantine requirement for entry into China after January 8 will be lifted and outbound travel for Chinese citizens will resume, the gaming Mecca became the most-searched tourist destination across many Chinese platforms as locals are looking for a place to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year.
Travel restrictions from mainland China were among the major factors which contributed to the Macau casino industry’s plunge by more than 50% in 2022 as the six concessionaires registered the worst aggregate GGR since 2004 despite the increase registered in the final month of the year, according to data released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
With the arrival of the New Year, Macau casino operators are faced with new concession rules, including a new fee mimicking rent pay for the casino floors depending on the size of the casino, the years of concession, and subject to indexing based on Macau’s average price index.
Last month, the six concessionaires, Galaxy Entertainment Group, MGM China, Sands China, Wynn Macau, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, and SJM Holdings signed their license contracts for the next 10-year period at an official ceremony.
The ceremony was followed by a press conference from the Macau government and the concessionaires, providing details related to their financial commitments to invest in the SAR and provide funds for the government’s projects ranging from International Tourism, Entertainment, Sporting Events, Art and Culture, Health Tourism, and others.
The industry is not expected to recover to its pre-pandemic levels in the next five years according to analysts from Morgan Stanley who projected it to reach a GGR of $22 billion by 2027.