Annual visitor arrivals rose by 30.7% year-on-year to 7,705,943 in 2021, a figure that remains far below pre-pandemic numbers, data from the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) shows.
Although the numbers represent a decline of over 80% compared to 2019, last year’s arrivals grew from around 5.9 million in 2020 – which was a devastating year for the tourism industry.
Mainland visitors in 2021 still accounted for the majority of the arrivals, particularly now that the border has been closed for nearly two years to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
There were 7,045,058 mainland visitors in 2021, an increase of 48.2% year-on-year. Visitors travelling under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) (2,449,128) grew by 31.3%, while visitors from the nine Pearl River Delta cities in the Greater Bay Area (4,117,836) surged by 59.9%.
On the other hand, visitors from Hong Kong (589,014) and Taiwan (70,950) showed respective decreases of 30.1% and 31.9% year-on-year.
Same-day visitors and overnight visitors stood at 4,009,143 (52.0% of the total) and 3,696,800 (48.0%) respectively, up 30.4% and 31.0% year-on-year. Visitors by air and by sea totaled 501,387 and 200,821 respectively.
Numbers have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels which saw the city record up to 40 million visitors. However, the MGTO is anticipating a significant improvement this year, with hopes that the number of arrivals next year could reach 10 million.
Late last year, Macau was reaching record numbers – since the pandemic started – following the city’s immediate state of prevention due to a Covid-19 outbreak and implemented strict infection control measures in August and late September.
One Friday in November registered 35,525 visitors, topping the recent record number of 30,000 from previous weeks. This was the highest recorded number of visitors since September 25.
Meanwhile, in December 2021, visitor arrivals totaled 820,870, a growth of 2.4% month-on-month and 24.5% year-on-year.
In terms of origin, the number of visitors from mainland China grew by 25.7% year-on-year to 762,554, with 279,464 of them travelling under the IVS. Visitors from the nine Pearl River Delta cities in the Greater Bay Area totaled 463,932, of whom 53.9% came from Zhuhai. Besides these, 50,768 visitors came from Hong Kong and 7,306 from Taiwan.
Borders have remained closed to foreign nationals from outside Greater China since March 2020. Negotiations for setting up a quarantine-free travel bubble with Hong Kong have been ongoing. However, due to new outbreaks of the Delta and Omicron variants, little progress has been made. With Macau and Hong Kong following Beijing’s zero-Covid policy, it remains unclear when borders will reopen to foreign arrivals. This is particularly uncertain given China’s desire to keep its doors closed in order to have a “safe” upcoming Olympics as well as the 20th Chinese Communist Party Conference in November.