Posted on: May 3, 2022, 01:05h.
Last updated on: May 3, 2022, 02:46h.
Macau welcomed around 92,400 visitors during the first three days of China’s annual Labor Day holiday. The 2022 May 1 holiday celebrating the working class was lengthened from its traditional three-day period to five days by the People’s Republic government.
Macau kicked off the holiday period on Sunday, May 1, with more than 40,000 travelers entering through the enclave’s border gates. The visitation primarily came from the mainland and neighboring Guangdong Province.
But following a robust kickoff, daily visitation slowed to approximately 26,200 daily entries for May 2-3. Macau’s Public Security Police, which controls the Chinese Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) borders, reported on the holiday traffic today.
Macau tallied 114,000 visitors during the three-day 2021 Labor Day holiday that affords most workers paid vacation time. This year’s holiday visitor count is 19% lower, further evidence that the coronavirus continues to greatly impede life throughout China and in its casino hub.
Macau’s six commercial casino operators rely greatly on China’s seven annual holidays. The celebrations typically give the country’s massive middle-class paid vacation, with travel being encouraged.
Prior to the pandemic, Macau facilitated more than 531,000 visitors during the 2019 Labor Day period. Macau and the Cotai Strip’s glitzy casino resort hotel rooms were booked full, and casino floors were occupied with mass play.
The ongoing pandemic and China’s “zero COVID” policy has halted such traditional economic boosters.
Macau casinos won just $331.2 million in April, their worst month since September of 2020. Through four months in 2022, gross gaming revenue (GGR) is 80% below 2019.
“Zero COVID” continues to limit travel across the mainland, as small clusters of new cases force travel restrictions and lockdowns. It was only last week that Macau announced that the validity period for negative tests — which are required for anyone trying to enter into Macau — would be lengthened from 48 hours to 72 hours. But Macau could reverse course after an outbreak of new COVID-19 cases in Shanghai was detected over the weekend.
Though Labor Day travel wasn’t as robust as the casinos hoped, gaming analysts focused on the Chinese enclave expressed a bit of optimism in notes issued today.
Vitaly Umansky of Sanford C. Bernstein said gaming in April ended strong, and the momentum is continuing into May. The analyst says despite elevated case counts in Shanghai, the COVID-19 situation across the mainland is improving.
After over a month of severe lockdown in Shanghai and strict COVID measures in other cities, China’s overall reported COVID cases have come down to below 30% of the peak level in mid-April,” Umansky wrote.
As a result, the Bernstein analyst expects GGR in May to improve from April’s dismal performance. That opinion is shared by analysts at JPMorgan. Analysts DS Kim, Amanda Cheng, and Livy Lyu said the Labor Day visitor numbers are actually quite promising, considering the COVID situation in the leadup to the May 1 holiday.
“This visitation figure proves yet again that the level of pent-up demand is strong, in our view,” they concluded.