China’s State Council has designated October 1-8 as the official holiday period, and not even a global pandemic can stop Chinese mainlanders from venturing to the country’s Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macao. The annual holiday period is one of the largest human migration periods, as nearly one billion people embark on a vacation.
Implemented in 2000 as a way of increasing domestic tourism, Golden Week kicks off with China’s National Day on October 1. Most companies give workers three or four days of paid leave, and paired with two weekend days, affords tens of millions of People’s Republic residents time to travel.
Macao has become a preferred destination for many, as the enclave is the only region in China where commercial gambling is permitted. Despite ongoing concerns with COVID-19, many Chinese people are booking trips to the world’s richest casino center.
Rooms Going Fast
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macao has plunged 81.6% January through August, the six licensed casino operators winning $4.5 billion. Total visitor arrivals into Macau is down 86% year-over-year, January through July, compared with the same seven months in 2019.
August’s visitor numbers will be released next week, and should reveal a slight return of tourists.
Entry restrictions into Macao eased last month, as the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) was reinstituted. The visa program allows mainland China residents in the Guangdong province and Zhuhai to come and go without quarantining.
Macao’s occupancy rate for its 34,900 guestrooms was just 12.1% in July. August won’t be much better, but September and October brings some optimism to the industry.
Morgan Stanley surveyed Macao hotel operators and found that of the five-star segment, the resorts were reporting an average occupancy rate of 80% for the Golden Week period. Two weeks out, five hotels said they were fully booked: Four Seasons, Morpheus, Ritz-Carlton, StarWorld, and Studio City.
City of Dreams’ Morpheus tower and Studio City are Melco Resorts properties. StarWorld and Ritz-Carlton are located at the Galaxy Macao complex, which is owned by Galaxy Entertainment. Four Seasons is part of The Plaza, owned by Las Vegas Sands.
All of the five-star hotels sold out for Golden Week are located on the Cotai Strip.
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