Macau is extending the validity of negative COVID-19 test results for travelers arriving from nearby Zhuhai.
Yesterday, Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center announced that people from Zhuhai seeking entry to the casino hub can now present a negative test completed within the past 72 hours. The announcement comes only five days after the Macau health agency extended the test validity period from 24 to 48 hours.
The entrance protocol applies to anyone arriving by land or sea. Macau remains off-limits for travelers coming from anywhere other than mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. Visitors arriving via air from the mainland or Hong Kong are permitted to present a negative test result completed within the past seven days.
However, air passengers from Taiwan must present a negative test conducted within the past 24 hours.
The various testing time controls are based on recent COVID-19 data. Macau sought to greatly limit travel from neighboring Zhuhai in March. That’s after a cluster of new cases in Guangdong city were confirmed.
Visitor Traffic Increasing
Macau will host many vacationers for China’s annual Labor Day celebration later this week. The May 1 event honors workers in the People’s Republic, with most employers giving their staffers three paid days off.
Since Macau lessened its Zhuhai testing protocols last week, visitor numbers have improved in the casino region. The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) explained that the average daily visitor count jumped 15% over the past seven days.
The MGTO says roughly 22,000 visitors have ventured into Macau each day since the government eased the testing rule from 24 to 48 hours. Extending the validity period to 72 hours could further increase same-day and short-term visitation.
Macau’s six commercial gaming operators are clinging to any sign of hope. Gaming revenue remains greatly below pre-pandemic levels. China and Macau continue to adhere to the “zero COVID” policy that requires drastic responses to even a handful of new cases. That leaves hope rather subdued in what was the world’s richest gaming market before the coronavirus.
MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes expects the test easing to boost Labor Day business. The travel and tourism official projects that around 60% of the approximately 36,000 casino hotel rooms will be occupied this weekend.
Too Little, Too Late
Macau’s gradual easing of testing rules for Zhuhai — which has been responsible for more visitors in Macau than any other mainland city for years — is welcomed news. But Senna Fernandes says the ever-changing rules led to the MGTO refraining from advertising Macau as a Labor Day destination in 2022.
With reduced visitation and little promotion, Macau’s five-star casino guestrooms remain available at rates far below what they went for before the pandemic.
Cotai Strip glitz can be booked overnight for less than $150 a night. Wynn Macau is charging $137 a night, and Studio City is just $79. MGM Cotai is advertising $109, and Grand Lisboa $107.
For Labor Day 2019, the MGTO says the average casino hotel room for Labor Day went for $233 a night.
Along with reduced gaming and hotel stays, Macau casinos are missing out on conventions. G2E Asia, typically held at The Venetian Macau, announced this month that its 2022 event would be held in Singapore.
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