Macau saw a rise in visitors arrivals over the weekend after authorities resumed issuing visas under the Individual Visit Scheme. According to the available data, the SAR welcomed about 25% more visitors than during the previous weekend.
Figures from the Public Security Police Force (PSP) show that there was a total of 7,500 tourist arrivals at the borders on Saturday and 6,000 on Sunday. These figures were slightly higher than last weekend’s arrivals, which stood at 11,200 across both days.
The city has been waiting for IVS visas to be issued again. The scheme resumed on August 12, with visa appointments on the first two days reportedly fully booked.
Previously, the PSP had said that it did not expect there to be significant changes in border traffic, yet it predicted a gradual, upward trend in the number of arrivals in the coming weeks.
In late January, the central government stopped issuing IVS visas as part of its measures to contain Covid-19. However, individual visas already issued by mainland authorities remained valid, despite the issuing of new permits being halted.
It was initially assumed that the IVS for mainland tourists intending to travel to Macau would be reinstated after the 13th National People’s Congress in May.
Prior to that, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said that the local government would request that the central government resume the issuance of the IVS and increase the number of cities covered by the scheme.
Resumption of the scheme depended on the stabilization of the Covid-19 situation across the country.
Meanwhile, authorities have announced that new Covid-19 cases reported in Shenzhen and Shanwei, Guangdong province, should not pose significant risks to Macau with the resumption of travel endorsements for Macau approved across the border.
As previously reported, any individual who wishes to apply for a travel endorsement to Macau must first make an appointment via official channels, including via WeChat. The Zhuhai police department will not offer the service to those without an appointment.
According to some applicants, the Zhuhai immigration authority said that the visa would be ready in seven days, meaning those that applied on August 12 may receive their visas today or tomorrow.
The IVS system, which was first implemented in four cities of the mainland’s Guangdong province in 2003, is considered to have been instrumental in aiding Macau’s recovery from SARS 17 years ago.
Despite IVS visas being issued again, analysts have said that tourist spending will not be as high as normal, as mainland tourists are also recovering from the economic effects of Covid-19.
Analysts noted that the issuance of IVS visas will not be an assurance that spending power will be as high, at least in the remaining quarter of the year.
Last year, the total number of Chinese IVS visitors was nearly 13.1 million in total, the largest number of IVS visitors in a single year.