Macau is struggling without a stream of tourists, and a mix of consumer fear and government precaution isn’t helping to solve that any time soon. So, without many options available, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is looking inward, and hopes to start a successful staycation campaign.
In a Saturday address to local media, director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes revealed that as many as 47,000 people have participated in local tourist routes launched under the “Vamos Macau” (Macao Go) banner. 15 of these routes have been designed by the Macau government to boost the local economy.
The popularity of these routes have the MGTO looking to launch more itineraries to meet demand, but choosing what businesses and locations will make a route successful is tricky, the director noted, because residents are more interested in indoor and family activies. “There are many uncertainties that lead us to make several adjustments,” she said.
The government has subsidized this kind of activity, but Senna Fernandes could not clarify if businesses like hotels or casino concessionaires would be eligible for such funding. The casinos have been running their own initiatives to get locals in the doors, but the director noted they are struggling. “I believe that during Monday to Friday, a majority of people here would not choose to stay at hotels,” she said. “Even for the fact that the hotels are offering some promotions, people tend to choose [to stay] during weekends because they want to use the resorts’ facilities.”
“So the occupancy rate [of Macau hotels] so far has not seen any apparent signs of rebound, and it is still standing at a low level,” she added, but was careful to note that they hadn’t forgotten about the region’s cash cow. “We are discussing with the hotels and even the integrated resorts…to stage more promotions [for Macau residents] in August.”
Macau’s tourism options right now are pretty limited. They have an agreement with the province of Guangdong to have cross-border travel permits, but a travel bubble with that region and Hong Kong had to be put on pause last week, as the latter started seeing a new spike in Covid-19 cases.
Hong Kong discovered 19 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, July 8. That spiked to 34 additional cases on Thursday, and finally 38 new cases on Friday. Even before the Friday cases were announced, Lam took to Facebook and declared that the whole situation needed to be re-examined. “Although W.H.O. and experts have said that the epidemic is bound to be repeated, there are many groups with high risk of transmission within a short time, and the government must be prepared to respond quickly.”
That directly affects Macau’s chances of regaining Hong Kong as a source of tourists. “In addition, we need to re-examine when we should launch the “Health code” pilot scheme for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau,” which she noted was so close to being ready to go.