Macao’s top tourism official says that Macao’s international visitor arrivals will probably only return in the second half of next year, public broadcaster TDM-Rádio Macau reported today, citing local Portuguese-language daily Ponto Final.
According to the report, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes made the prediction in a speech at a recent function hosted by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce (FMCC).
Based on the “One China” policy to which the Macao Special Administrative Region government strictly adheres, “international tourism” refers to visitor arrivals from foreign countries. Visitor arrivals from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan are considered as compatriots.
In 2019, international tourism accounted for just about seven percent of Macao’s 39.4 million visitor arrivals, when visitors from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan reached 36.3 million.
The report quoted Senna Fernandes as saying that the government would focus this year on “recovering” the mainland Chinese visitor segment.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international visitors have been barred from Macao since early this year.
According to the report, Senna Fernandes acknowledged that it was difficult to make visitor number predictions due to the pandemic’s uncertainties. However, she said she expected foreign visitors to make a gradual comeback in the second half of next year, from some Asian countries in particular.
Senna Fernandes also revealed that MGTO – which is actually not an office but a bureau in the local government’s institutional hierarchy – would be transferred from the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture to the Secretariat for Economy and Finance next month.
The upcoming transfer was announced by the government early the year, but without saying when it would take place. The Secretariat for Economy and Finance already includes the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). Gaming is the most important segment of Macao’s tourism sector, which has been severely affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy.