Fri, 08 Dec 2023

Macao prepares for end of Covid restriction in November

Robert Besser
28 Sep 2022, 20:10 GMT+10

MACAU, Macao: After Macao's chief executive Ho Iat Seng announced this week that China would resume an e-visa scheme for mainland travelers and permit group tours, shares in the city's casino operators jumped by 13 percent.

Shares in Sands China rose by more than 13 percent, Wynn Macau by 7 percent, Galaxy Entertainment up 10 percent, and SJM and MGM China by 8 percent each.

Also, Ho said that the Chinese special administrative region, which is the only place in China where it is legal to gamble in casinos, will open to mainland tour groups in November for the first time in almost three years.

Since 2020, Macau has enforced strict COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, severely impacting its casino industry. Gamblers from mainland China account for some 90 percent of the city's total casino revenues.

"Although it is tough to quantify the immediate benefit, we believe the resumption of e-visas and group tours should alleviate friction for a Macau trip, as well as signal to many that it is okay to visit. Finally we feel we can talk about a return to normalcy," said DS Kim, analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong, as quoted by Reuters.

Due to a lack of e-visas, which were used by Chinese gamblers to make instant bookings before the pandemic, movement between Macao and the mainland border has remained low, despite being open for two years.

Chinese tourists wishing to visit Macao must currently book a visa appointment followed by waiting for a week-long approval process.

The resumption of tour groups will come from five provinces, including Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian.

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