Golden Week disappoints Macau’s casino industry as number of inbound tourists slip over 85% year-on-year

Golden Week disappoints Macau’s casino industry as number of inbound tourists slip over 85% year-on-year

Golden Week has always been one of the busiest periods of the year for Macau’s casino industry but this year’s edition of the annual national holiday celebration reportedly proved disappointing as the casino hub saw a drastic decline in the number of inbound tourists.

As per preliminary data released by Macau authorities, the number of inbound tourists in the gambling hub slipped 85.7 per cent year-on-year to merely 139,280. Macau, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, welcomed nearly 974,000 foreign tourists during the ‘Golden Week’ of 2019 at an average daily rate of roughly 139,200. Most (81 per cent) of those tourists had been from Mainland China.

The economy of Macau, which is the only region of China where gambling is legal, is mainly dependent on revenue generated by the casino industry. As casinos and other gaming venues of the region remained closed for months due to Covid-19 pandemic, the main source of revenue suffered a steep decline. With health concerns and various Covid-19 restrictions still in place, the industry continues to struggle to survive. Normally, the Golden Week celebration, which runs across the first week of October in honor of the establishment of the modern state of China, attracts large numbers of Mainland China tourists who visit the casino hub to enjoy a plethora of gambling and entertainment facilities.

The steep decline in the number of tourists during the Golden Week period is a clear indication that Macau’s casino industry is still far away from a strong rebound following the economic slowdown caused by the deadly corona virus pandemic.

According to global brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein, gross gaming revenue (GGR) across Golden Week period in Macau generated only $246 million for the enclave’s casino industry. The estimated figure represents a decline of 76 per cent from the corresponding period of 2019. The only positive take away in the newly published report is that the daily average rate jumped 279 per cent month over month.

Echoing similar views, JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd. said, “We were overly hopeful on the prospect of pent-up demand, which we thought would outweigh the nuisances related to travel arrangement to Macau and stricter capital control.”

Industry experts have estimated that the month of October could see a GGR decline of up to 70 per cent. While any rebound will largely be tied to visa processing, visitation and sternness of any liquidity constraints that remain uncertain, a full recovery of Macau’s casino industry is likely not possible until 2022.