Posted on: April 12, 2022, 12:29h. 

Last updated on: April 12, 2022, 01:21h.

China’s Labor Day is just two and a half weeks out. But with COVID-19 continuing to limit cross-border traffic between the mainland and Macau, the gaming hub won’t likely see the rush of visitors the enclave typically experiences during the annual holiday.

Macau China Labor Day casino hotel room
A rather empty ferry boat transports people from Hong Kong to Macau. Macau, China’s casino hub, is expecting a ho-hum May 1 Labor Day because of yet another COVID-19 outbreak on the mainland. (Image: LinkedIn)

Mainland China is experiencing another wave of new COVID-19 cases, a subvariant of omicron cited for the latest surge. With the People’s Republic maintaining its “zero COVID” policy approach to the pandemic that results in strict lockdowns upon detection of new outbreaks, that means the May 1 Labor Day will almost surely be subdued in 2022.

Today is the 12th already. If we do not see a zero COVID-19 case scenario [on the mainland] by this month’s end, we are going to have a big problem with the May 1 holiday,” said Ho Iat Seng, Macau’s chief executive. Ho’s comments were first relayed by GGRAsia.

Also known as May Day, China’s annual Labor Day is one of seven public holidays. The date is a celebration of laborers and the working class. Most employers afford their workers a three-day holiday around May 1.

Latest Entry Protocols

Macau continues to prohibit all foreigners entry to the casino town, as visitors arriving only from the mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are currently permitted access. Those seeking entry from those three areas must present a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test conducted within the past 24 hours and must not have traveled internationally within the previous 21 days.

Labor Day traditionally sees tens of thousands of mainlanders take a leisure retreat to Macau to spend some of their hard-earned income. The five-star casino resorts typically demand high rates for their hotel guestrooms. But that is far from the case this year.

For a three-night stay from Friday, April 29, through Monday, May 2, numerous five-star resorts can be booked for less than $125 a night. They include The Venetian and Parisian ($90), Galaxy ($118/night), and Four Seasons Cotai Strip ($122).

Slim demand has led to the luxurious properties dropping their rates. But such budget travelers don’t spend nearly the same as their more affluent counterparts, which are labeled as the “premium mass” demographic.

Ho says package touring visas for groups of mainlanders to Macau remain on hold. But that could change quickly, the chief executive explained, once China gets its COVID-19 numbers under better control.

Gaming Projections Downward

With the coronavirus again spreading throughout China, gaming analysts focused on Macau are of the belief that gross gaming revenue (GGR) will slide in April from March. Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein said yesterday in a note that it expects casino revenue to tumble 13% from March.

Macau’s six gaming operators reported GGR of just MOP3.67 billion (US$455 million) last month. March 2022 represented a 56% year-over-year decline and a 53% drop from February.

Through the first quarter of the year, GGR is down 25% compared with the same three months in 2021.