Macau casinos are getting ready for a flurry of visitors this upcoming Golden Week holiday, the first in its history that will occur amid a global pandemic.
Due to travel restrictions and safety precautions brought about by the COVID-19 situation during the first half of the year, many establishments including hotel-casinos in Macau have witnessed a dramatic drop in visitor bookings.
Things are going to look bright once again because soon these Macau casinos will receive an influx of visitors thanks to the annual Golden Week holiday.
Established in the year 2000 as a way of boosting local tourism, Golden Week begins with China's National Day on October 1st. Most companies allow employees to take a paid leave worth three or four days, and add to that two days of the weekend, thus giving them lots of time to travel. Tens of millions of residents in the People's Republic take this opportunity to unwind and have fun with family and friends.
The State Council of China appointed October 1 to 8 as the official holiday time, which means not even the novel coronavirus pandemic can stop Chinese mainlanders from visiting the country's Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau. Golden week is one of the biggest human migration events - roughly one billion people travel for vacation.
Macau has become a choice destination for many, as the enclave is the only area in China where commercial gambling is legal. Despite the possibility of contracting COVID-19, many Chinese residents are still booking trips to the world's richest casino hub.
Five Hotel Casinos Fully Booked
Macau's gross gaming revenue (GGR) has dived 81.6% from January through August, the six licensed casino operators raking in $4.5 billion. The overall visitor arrivals in Macau went down 86% year-over-year from January to July, as compared to the same timeframe in 2019.
Last month when the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) was reinstated, the entry restrictions into Macau therefore eased. This visa program allows mainland China residents to come and go without being quarantined in places such as the Guangdong province and Zhuhai.
With its 34,900 guestrooms, the occupancy rate in Macau was only 12.1% in July. While August also remains bleak, September and October are expected to bring some optimism to the industry.
In a Morgan Stanley survey, five out of the 23 hotels in Macau were already fully booked for the Golden Week period. These are Four Seasons Macao, a Sands China Ltd property; Morpheus at City of Dreams Macau, and Studio City, both owned by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd; and the Ritz-Carlton Macau located at the Galaxy Macau resort, and StarWorld Hotel, two properties run by Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. All of these five-star hotels are located on the Cotai Strip.