Macau Sees Huge Drop in Visitor Numbers in 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic played a huge role in the low number of visitors traveling to Macau in 2020, with an 85% drop reported.
The year 2020 seems like a blur. For most of us, the year was spent in isolation and it is not over. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an issue around the world, some areas hit harder than others. In Macau, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) was affected by travel issues as well as the virus itself. The casino gaming city saw a huge drop in visitor numbers when compared to 2019, going as low as 85%.
Starting in late January, the city of Macau began to see a huge decline in visitor numbers. The Macau Public Security Police are responsible for monitoring people as they move in and out of the region. According to police, a total of 5.92 million people traveled to Macau last year. While this may seem like a lot, the casino hub tends to see many more visitors each year.
Because of the starting point of the COVID-19 pandemic, Macau was hit earlier than other areas of the world. Entries into the city were tightened beginning in January. Because the city is an autonomous territory of China, officials have the right to restrict people from coming in.
The virus started in the mainland, so Macau took drastic action to keep it from coming their way. While the restrictions affected the gaming industry greatly, it did help to keep the number of positive cases in the area down considerably. Only 46 total cases took place in Macau and each individual has recovered.
Compare that number to Hong Kong, where over 9,300 cases were seen and 161 total deaths. Hong Kong is another SAR region that could have been just as restrictive as Macau if they had chosen to do so. For Macau, the city has not seen a new positive case in over six months.
In Macau as well as the mainland, a 14-day quarantining restriction kept people from coming in and out. Few people traveled to Macau last year because they did not want to have to quarantine for the extended time frame. Anyone who had to travel to Macau for essential purposes was stuck there for quite some time due to the regulations.
Because of the strict setting, Macau was basically empty for the year. The total number of visitors coming to the region was down by almost 33.5 million. The six licensed operators for casino gaming in the region only reported $7.53 billion in 2020, which was a 79% decrease from the previous year.
It is expected that Macau will rebound this year. Analysts feel the gross gaming revenues will return to the 2019 numbers, reaching as high as 70 to 75% of what was earned that year. However, the virus is not completely gone. Now a new strain has emerged which has led Macau to put the entry rules back in place.
Any people who are from the mainland that have went to another country in the last three weeks are not allowed entry into Macau. Anyone from the area that has not traveled internationally can come in but must be put in supervised quarantine for two to three weeks.
The hope is that the new strain will not be immune to the vaccines being administered around the world and it will not become a major issue. If the vaccinations prove positive, then Macau should be able to lift restrictions and begin seeing a regular stream of visitors coming in within the next few months. The movement of the virus and how it changes or disappears will play a major role in how Macau adjusts in the future.