By the end of this year, the number of visitors having walked the streets and shops of Macau will have increased by more than 7% over last year’s amount. This is the forecast of Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, the head of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO).
Fernandes indicated during a public event yesterday that Macau is expecting an aggregate visitor total for the year of around 35 million, an uptick of 7.4% over visitation from 2017. Last year, there were just over 32.6 million tourists, which represented an increase of 5.4% year-on-year.
For the first nine months of the year, visitor arrivals had increased by 8.3% over the same period last year and totaled 25.81 million. The majority came from the Chinese mainland, which comprised 70.6% of the aggregate total. There were 18.22 million mainlanders, an increase of 13.3% over the 2017 numbers.
Despite the increase, however, investment analysts point out that there may not be a correlation between an increase in visitation to the gambling mecca and an increase in casino spending. Analysts have previously stated that high-stakes gambling action involves a small group of visitors and this group controls a significant portion of the market.
Recent statistics have revealed that the number of overnight and same-day visitors has been on the rise. In September, the numbers increased by 1.9% and 4.4%, respectively, reaching 1.41 million and 1.15 million. The average stay saw a slight uptick, increasing 0.1 days to 1.4 days.
With the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZM), the MGTO hopes to attract a new market segment. Fernandes indicated that the office is campaigning to bring in more “mid- and long-haul” visitors who can take advantage of the new bridge.
Under current guidelines, passengers and vehicles traveling to Macau from Hong Kong may use the bridge at any time using a boundary-crossing checkpoint that is open 24 hours a day. Bus service is also available, but these do not all run around the clock.
The HKZM Bridge is the first direct road link between Macau and the Hong Kong International Airport, as well as the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world. It crosses the Pearl River Delta and spans 34 miles.