China’s Lunar New Year holiday saw tourism growth double to the world’s biggest gaming hub.
China mainland visitors to Macao reached almost 900,000 during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday, climbing 26% from last year’s festive holiday, according to Macao’s tourism office. That accelerated from last year’s 12% growth and triggered a rally for the Hong Kong-listed casino operators.
Tourism from mainland has seen a boost since October after the opening of a bridge linking Zhuahai on the mainland to Macao and Hong Kong.
To be sure, actual casino revenue data may not look as rosy as the visitation numbers.
A Morgan Stanley survey in mid-January showed lower hotel booking rates overall for Chinese New Year, especially at luxury resorts. The firm’s analysts expected lower gambling spending per visitor during the holiday season, even as the number of day trippers to Macao was forecast to grow.
While the number of tourists and casual gamblers have increased, high rollers who can skew casino revenue were in short supply at the tables. Suncity, the largest junket operator that extends credit to high-stakes gamblers, saw betting volume drop 3% during the first five days of the Year of Pig, according to Andrew Lo, executive director of Suncity Group Holdings, the publicly traded unit of the group.
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