The government has resumed efforts to resume tourist group visits to the mainland and expand entry for non-residents

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said today (Tuesday) that after the outbreak was brought under control in the local community and the state of immediate prevention was lifted on August 3, authorities resumed efforts to try to resume group travel from the mainland and widen the entry of non-residents from other overseas countries.

Speaking at a session of the Legislative Assembly to answer questions from lawmakers, Ho also revealed that right after the immediate prevention state was lifted, the RAD Secretary for Economics and Finance resumed contact with the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism to try to reinstate visa applications for tourist groups.

While individual tourist visas for mainland travelers coming to Macao have resumed since August 2020, applications for group tourist visas – which previously accounted for nearly half of SAR visits – have remained suspended so far.

Lawmaker Song Pek Kei asked what efforts are being made to attract more mainland tourists and boost the city’s economic recovery, and specifically asked for more efforts to attract tourists from second-tier cities.

In mainland China, first-tier cities include cities with more than 15 million people, while second-tier includes cities with 3 to 15 million people.

“There is a market of 1.4 billion people in China but we are not preparing a specific opening on one city first or another. […] We also don’t differentiate efforts for 1st or 2nd tier cities, every tourist is welcome to come to Macau,” he added.

“Any relaxation of this policy will depend on the central government. We will continue to fight to bring in more tourists.”

The average number of daily trips to and from Macau has gradually recovered to some 6,400 last week, a jump of 771% from 734 the previous week.

As the city’s worst community outbreak was brought under control, daily visits have gradually approached some 20,000 since Aug. 3, a recovery that may now be hampered again by Zhuhai’s new border policies.

Ho pointed out that mainland tourists are concerned that changes in pandemic policies will prevent them from returning home during the travel period, with many tourists avoiding all travel at this stage.

As an example, the EC mentioned the recent outbreak in Hainan, which led to some 80,000 visitors arriving in Sanya, the island’s main tourist hub after a lockdown was imposed last Saturday.

“Therefore, we have consistently promoted Macau as a safe travel destination and that tourists do not need to self-quarantine when returning home,” Ho added.

Regarding foreign tourists, Ho noted that the SAR has already opened up to non-residents of Portugal, who are allowed to enter after completing the required quarantine, currently at seven days and three days of self-health.

“If the epidemic situation continues to stabilize, we will study opening more people from overseas countries. Other countries want their citizens to even enter quarantine,” he added.

“We were doing this study [before the recent outbreak started on June 18] which led us to suspend it”