Macau Tourism Office Optimistic on ’22 Arrivals, Expects Over 10 Million Visits


Macau continues to work toward a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 was a devastating year and 2021 hasn’t brought back the numbers that the city had hoped. All eyes are now on 2022, with the city’s casinos looking for more traffic. According to Macau’s tourism board, they might get it.

Maria Helena de Selena Fernandes
Maria Helena de Selena Fernandes
Maria Helena de Selena Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, expects tourism arrivals to add about 30% next year (Image: China Daily)

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) believes 2022 will bring a significant improvement over 2021. Maria Helena de Selena Fernandes, the agency’s director, told the press over the weekend that she believes the number of arrivals next year could reach 10 million.

Should her prediction come true, the figure would be about 70% greater than what was recorded across the first 10 months of 2021. Through October, slightly more than six million people crossed into Macau. This was a 32.2% increase over the same-period figure from last year. By the end of this year, the MGTO head hopes that seven million arrivals will be recorded in Macau.

Travel Questions Need to be Answered

Currently, Macau and mainland China have a quarantine-free travel agreement. This could soon include Hong Kong, which is working on improving travel between the city and parts of the mainland. As more COVID-19 vaccines are administered and the number of positive cases falls, there is more reason to be optimistic.

The new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus could become an issue. It has already been seen in a number of locations, including Hong Kong. Several countries have implemented new travel restrictions to keep it from spreading.

Because governments now know how to test for COVID-19 more effectively and rapidly, this will play a key role in facilitating or limiting travel regulations heading into 2022. The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that standard PCR tests can determine Omicron infections, as well as the other variants, with other testing methods currently being explored.

As long as the testing continues, Macau will be able to stay on its current path toward increased tourism. The city recently brought back the seven-day period for a negative COVID-19 test, relaxing the 48-hour requirement. That could be changed again, however, in light of the new Omicron variant.

If it doesn’t, Macau could see considerable support for its gaming market. The relaxation of travel rules, should they hold firm, has allowed the government to forecast as much as $16.2 billion in gross gaming revenue for its fiscal year 2022.

That would still be significantly off from where Macau was two years ago; however, it’s an improvement. Last year, the figure was less than half that amount.

New WHO International Pandemic Treaty Coming

An agreement was reached on Sunday by the members of the WHO. It will kick-start the process toward creating a treaty on pandemics that will outline how to deal with the next global crisis. Member countries agreed to establish an intergovernmental body responsible for drafting and negotiating the WHO pandemic preparedness, response and prevention agreement.

From Monday through Wednesday, nations will meet in Geneva to discuss an international agreement on how to deal with the next pandemic. The meeting, taking place this week, should formalize Sunday’s draft decision.

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