Macau’s reopened visa scheme for China may be slow to show results


Macau has announced a full resumption of their Individual Visit Scheme (IVS). There will be no limits to how many Chinese residents can visit the city, as Zhuhai, Guangdong Province and all of Mainland China will be invited to apply for visas on August 12, August 26 and September 23, respectively.

macaus-reopened-visa-scheme-for-china-may-be-slow-to-show-resultsMacau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has said there’s no plans to discuss any limits to the number of visitors China could send to the special administrative region (SAR). “We can see that without visitors Macau is facing great economic problems and a rise in unemployment. We are monitoring the situation and seeing the whole picture,” Ho said.

But analysts are suspicious that recovery won’t come swiftly. “It will be a great help for Macau. It is great news, but it will be a long way to reach the level of the results of 2019 ”, before the pandemic of the new coronavirus, underlined Ben Lee, an analyst at the gaming consultant IGamix.

Lee added that the segment Macau needs to come back the most, VIPs, may struggle as international trade fights to return to pre-2020 levels and Chinese authorities restrict their ability to bring immense wealth to the SAR.

But maybe pent up demand for travel will bring the mass market back strong. The Morgan Stanley AlphaWise research unit has indicated that the number one fear amongst potential Chinese travelers is contracting covid-19, and with Macau having much lower levels of the virus than neighboring Hong Kong and travel generally being restricted all over the world, Macau will win out.

“Mainland Chinese tourists are most worried about catching Covid-19, when asked the reason for not traveling overseas. Macau has been registering zero cases for the last four months, which should put it ahead of Hong Kong,” Morgan Stanley’s report indicated.

‘We expect significant increase in visitation/GGR over the next three months as more IVS (Individual Visitor Scheme)visas are issued from Zhuhai (from August 12), Guangdong (August 26) and whole of China (September 23).”

58 percent of respondents to their survey indicated they don’t want to catch Covid-19, and 46 percent indicated they were afraid of being stuck abroad. But it’s yet to be seen if either of these factors will help Macau, as more than half of respondents said they have no plans to visit Macau in the next 6 months.