Macau sees visitation hike by more than 300% during Lunar New Year holiday

Macau is having a tourism boom due to the Lunar New Year, according to latest reports. Visitation increased significantly from the previous year, when the gaming hub was affected by the pandemic, rising by more than 300%. Provisional data from the government points out that the destination reported more than 318,000 visitor arrivals in the first five days of the week-long holiday that started Saturday.

More than 180,000 came from mainland China, a 155% surge from a year prior, according to data from the Public Security Police Force. There were about 118,000 arrivals from nearby Hong Kong, a 2,700% increase. These were the two major sources of tourists, as more than 94% of visitors to Macau over the first three days of the Lunar New Year, January 21-23, came from mainland China and Hong Kong.

The government said that average daily visitor arrivals reached more than 51,000, a year-on-year surge of 217%. Macau had only 15,000 average daily visits in 2022. On Monday alone, the city welcomed more than 71,000 visitors, the highest single-day record since the pandemic. And according to gaming executives, many hotel resorts on Macau’s Las Vegas-style strip have been sold out for the holiday period. 

Macau has seen a resurgence of tourists from mainland China since January 8, after the special Chinese administrative region dropped all COVID-19 testing requirements for inbound travelers from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Furthermore, the influx of tourists into the former Portuguese colony comes after Beijing reopened its borders with the rest of the world in January for the first time in three years. 

In 2022, Macau was hit hard economically due to the virus outbreaks and lockdowns in mainland China, which is the most significant source of visitors there. Furthermore, stricter visa rules were applied because of a crackdown on cross-border gambling. This, coupled with the lack of tourists, resulted in the casinos, which make up 80% of the government income and 1/3 of all employment, having to close for almost two weeks in July in order to contain a local flare-up.

Investors are now optimistic about the prospects of Macau’s casino industry, causing a Bloomberg Intelligence indicator of stocks to reach its highest point since 2021. According to the most recently available projections from the International Monetary Fund, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth could increase by 56.7% in 2023 after dropping by 22.4% in 2022.