Efforts by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) last year amid the pandemic to revive Macao’s tourism industry were outlined at its annual press conference, held on 10 February.
Following the progressive reinstatement of travel permit issuance for Mainland residents to come to Macao, as well as different marketing strategies and promotions, Macao saw a rebound in visitor arrivals in the fourth quarter of 2020, while the average length of stay of overnight-stay visitors and all visitors increased in 2020.
The Office launched a range of measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in 2020 and furthered the following major tasks: reviewing the “Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan”, fostering smart tourism and quality tourism development, furthering Macao’s endeavours as a Creative City of Gastronomy, and engaging in regional and international cooperation.
Surge in arrivals, length of stay
The resumption of travel permit issuance for Mainland residents in the third quarter of 2020 saw an uptrend in arrivals that was boosted by promotional efforts. Visitor arrivals surged by 150% between the third and fourth quarters of 2020. On New Year’s Eve, 31 December, Macao recorded 30,668 visitor arrivals, the highest daily record ever since the pandemic broke in 2020.
The average length of stay of all visitors and overnight-stay visitors increased in 2020. The average length of stay of all visitors was 1.4 days, a year-on-year increase of 0.2 days, while the average stay of overnight visitors was 2.8 days, a year-on-year increase of 0.6 days. Same-day visitors stayed an average of 0.2 days.
Overnight-stay visitor arrivals dropped by 84.9% year-on-year, to more than 2.8 million, accounting for 47.9% of visitor arrivals; whereas same-day visitor arrivals dropped by 85.2% to more than 3.07 million.
Visitor arrivals neared 5.9 million
Total visitor arrivals dropped by 85% in year-on-year terms to nearly 5.9 million in 2020. About 96.7% of visitors came from markets in Greater China.
South Korea continued to rank first among the international source markets, contributing more than 44,000 visitors in 2020. There were 32,000 visitor arrivals from the Philippines. Visitors from foreign countries were banned from visiting Macao starting from the latter half of March, in accord with the pandemic control measures adopted by the Macao SAR Government.
Hotel occupancy uptick in 4Q
Local hotels welcomed 3.87 million overnight guests last year, a year-on-year decline of 72.5%. The average occupancy rate of local hotels dropped by 62.2 percentage points to about 28.6%.
Provisional data suggests the average occupancy rate increased by 31.9 percentage points from the third quarter to fourth quarter. The average room rate of three- to five-star hotels was US$115.10 (MOP919.13), a year-on-year decrease of 32.4%.
At 31 December, there were 132 local hotel establishments with an inventory of 41,884 rooms, which includes 42 budget accommodation establishments supplying 1,131 rooms. Six newly-licensed hotel establishments were opened in 2020.
Spurring tourism recovery
In 2020, tourism-related taxes and fees were waived to bolster the city’s travel trade. After the pandemic situation stabilised in Macao and Mainland China, the Office launched measures and promotional activities to spur tourism recovery in Macao:
* Partnerships with local production companies to create promotional videos that highlight Macao’s image as a safe and quality destination
* Launched the “Macao Ready Go” e-platform that had registered 671 merchants and 2,053 special promotions, delivering more than 240,000 discount coupons by 31 December 2020
* Coordinated “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” that yielded economic benefits of about MOP57.40 million (including tour fees and extra expenditures), and provided job opportunities for 445 tour guides and 508 coach drivers. Close to 140,000 participants joined the tours
* Under the umbrella of the Government’s scheme to “expand visitor source, revive the economy and secure employment opportunities”, partnerships with major e-commerce companies included a collaborative project with technology conglomerate Tencent Holdings Limited that distributed 1.37 million cash vouchers and had 100,483 room nights redeemed from hotel coupons, driving transactions worth RMB315 million at a leverage ratio of 23
* Delivered the “Tour Macao Carnival” to weave together local events to spotlight Macao as a safe travel destination
* The “Beijing Macao Week” promotional activity was held in September. The event engaged about 800,000 spectators, with 75 million views of livestreams by Key Opinion Leaders.
* The rescheduled Macao Light Festival held in September attracted 243,258 spectators.
* The 8th Macao International Travel (Industry) Expo was held in an innovative online and offline format, and added a cloud series including 12 sessions of the “Cloud Live Broadcast” that drew 262,000 concurrent viewers at its peak, with playback counts reaching 120 million.
Review of Master Plan
A review of the Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan began at the end of 2020. At that time, 62 out of 69 short-term (defined as zero to five years) action plans reached the targeted goals and the level of implementation neared 90%.
As part of efforts to foster smart tourism development, MGTO worked to broaden the availability of open data, including implementing the “Smart Trip Planner”.
The Office launched the Macanese Cuisine Database webpage to strengthen Macao’s development as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, and engaged in online activities organised worldwide by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, as well as supported other cities in their process of application to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Throughout 2020, the Office offered the travel trade different training opportunities with an enhanced diversity of online learning elements and courses covering topics such as barrier-free communication, catering expertise, culture and history.
In full-year 2020, the Office conducted 1,947 inspections to operations of industry professionals and tourism establishments, 787 inspections at ports of entry and tourist attractions, as well as 800 random inspections on tour groups of “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours”. The inspections also targeted pertinent entities’ compliance with pandemic prevention guidelines.
In terms combatting illegal accommodation, the Office carried out 812 apartment inspections throughout the year and sealed 82 apartments. It also took part in 178 joint inspections with the inter-departmental task force.