Authorities in Mainland China will resume issuing – by the end of September – individual and group permits to tourists heading to Macao. A gradual resumption of the tourist permits began in Zhuhai on 12 August and continued through the rest of Guangdong Province on 26 August, as the coronavirus situation remains stable in both the Mainland and Macao.
Tourist permits include authorisation for package tour groups and for independent travel under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS).
Mainland Chinese tourists wishing to enter Macao must show a certificate for a valid, negative COVID-19 test, issued in the preceding seven days before their arrival. A Mainland Chinese tourist travelling to Macao by air or sea must also show the certificate when boarding.
There are no quarantine requirements or other restrictions for Mainland residents entering Macao on a tourist permit, unless they have been in Hong Kong, the Taiwan region or abroad in the preceding 14 days.
The announcement to resume the tourist permit scheme came in August from the National Immigration Administration. The resumption of tourist permits was dependent on the coronavirus situation remaining stable in both the Mainland and in Macao, it said.
Tourist permits remain out of reach for Mainland Chinese residents living in places defined by the authorities as “mid risk” and “high risk” in terms of COVID-19 infections, or for individuals that have travelled to these higher risk places in the 14 days prior to their application for a tourist visa.
Macao SAR Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said resuming the travel permit programme would support Macao’s economic recovery. The Chief Executive stated that the perseverance displayed by the general public in Macao in complying with measures to control the pandemic would help boost tourist confidence in the city’s disease containment strategy and help provide a safe environment for everyone.
The Chief Executive expressed that he was confident Macao could attract Mainland visitors because it remains a popular destination and offers a safe environment. Popularity and safety made Macao an appealing destination for tourists, particularly as the pandemic restricts travel between Mainland China and most other parts of the world.
The IVS programme currently applies to 49 Mainland cities. The majority – 21 – are in Guangdong. The scheme was suspended in late January, as part of the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Permits for package tour groups to visit Macao were suspended at the same time.
The nationwide resumption of tourism permits to Macao will take place ahead of the “October Golden Week”, usually a peak period for the tourism industry. The first week of October marks a seasonal holiday encompassing China’s National Day and is also known as autumn Golden Week. China’s State Council declared the 2020 holiday period as running for eight days, from 1 to 8 October, to include a holiday for Mid-Autumn Festival.
The resumption of the tourism permit programme is the latest in a series of measures meant to re-start normal movement across the border between Mainland China and Macao, as the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be under control on both sides.
Since 12 August eligible people staying in Macao have been able to travel quarantine-free to any part of Mainland China, as long as they present a valid negative COVID-19 test result. They are not permitted into the Mainland if, at any time 14 days before their intended departure, they have been to a foreign country, Hong Kong or the Taiwan region.
The quarantine-free travel scheme covers travellers to Mainland China that hold a Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents, or a valid passport issued by the People’s Republic of China or any other type of Mainland Chinese travel document.
People travelling to Mainland China face being quarantined there if they are confirmed COVID-19 patients, are suspected of being infected with the COVID-19 virus, have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, or have a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness.
Macao SAR Government Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U said quarantine-free travel would be suspended if new COVID-19 infections were detected in Macao, and if the risk of infection in the city were to be officially designated as “medium” or “high”. In this case, Secretary Ao Ieong said the quarantine-free measures would remain suspended until the risk fell back to “low”.
The Mainland’s joint prevention and control mechanism for COVID-19 designates “medium risk” to a location if between one and 10 cases of local transmission are recorded there. More than 10 cases would see a location considered “high risk”.
In Macao, 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported since January, but no cases have been recorded since 26 June. Each of the COVID-19 patients has recovered and was discharged from hospital.
Macao’s boundaries are still closed to foreign visitors, and to visitors from Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan that have been abroad in the 14 days preceding their arrival in Macao.
Visitors using Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong or Taiwan travel documents that have been in the Taiwan region in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao must show a certificate issued in the preceding seven days proving they have tested negative for the COVID-19 virus in a nucleic acid test, and they must spend 14 days in quarantine.
In view of the increase in cases of COVID-19 infection in Hong Kong, travellers to Macao from Hong Kong must show a valid, negative COVID-19 test, issued in the preceding 24 hours, otherwise they may be denied entry. Travellers to Macao whose journey began in Hong Kong must submit, on arrival, to 14 days in quarantine.
|Hengqin, Macao exchange visits for travel trade help prepare for greater cooperation|
The Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area hosted in August an exchange and inspection visit of Hengqin Island for Macao tourism industry representatives. The “Macao Ready Go! Explore Hengqin” visit – under the theme “Macao and Hengqin walk together” – was part of preparatory work for deepening collaboration in tourism on both sides of the boundary, following the inauguration of the new Hengqin Port, and the easing of restrictions on travel between Macao and Mainland China which had been imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) joined about 100 Macao tourism industry participants on the exchange and inspection visit to Hengqin on 18 August, the day the new Hengqin Port opened. On the tour was MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes.
The scheme gave members of the travel trade in Macao an insider’s view of new facilities on Hengqin and offered first-hand experience of Macao-Hengqin tour routes.
The “Macao Ready Go! Explore Hengqin” visit took in some of the destination’s attractions, including Hengqin’s branch of the China Red Sandalwood Museum, and the Novotown and Legend Ponto Square complexes. Participants also toured a number of entertainment facilities on Hengin, including the Lionsgate Entertainment World theme park, the National Geographic Ultimate Explorer complex, and Sumlodol Hengqin Camping Town.
Concurrently, about 100 industry representatives from Hengqin were welcomed to Macao by MGTO Deputy Director Cheng Wai Tong. The group took three city tours that are part of the “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” programme.