Double-digit visitor growth still a slowdown from June

Visitor arrivals rose 16.3% in year-on-year terms in July to reach 3.53 million, according to the latest data provided by the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), which has attributed part of the growth to the impact of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

The remarkable double-digit growth represents a slowdown from the previous two months. Visitor arrivals in Macau surged by 18.9% year-on-year to about 3.1 million in June, following a 25.6% year-on-year advance in May.

Fueling concerns of overtourism among the public, the rapid rise in tourist arrivals has been concentrated in the same-day visitor segment. Same-day visitors surged nearly 30% year-on-year to 1.81 million, while growth in overnight visitors (1.71 million) trailed by 4.7%.

In view of an increase of 5.4 percentage points in the proportion of same-day visitors to 51.4%, the average length of stay of visitors shortened considerably, according to DSEC. The average length of visit for same-day visitors held steady at 0.2 days, or about four to five hours.

In July, visitors from mainland China increased by 18.5% year-on-year to nearly 2.57 million, with those traveling under the Individual Visit Scheme rising 10.9% to 1.17 million. Visitors from Hong Kong grew 16.4% to 634,400, whereas those from South Korea (55,300) and Taiwan (96,600) decreased by 6.9% and 5.1% respectively.

Meanwhile, visitors from the nine Pearl River Delta cities in the Greater Bay Area surged by 27.5% year-on-year to 982,400, with those coming from Zhuhai (276,100) and Guangzhou (198,700) climbing 50.2% and 21.1% respectively.

According to the data, about 553,000 arrivals were registered via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in July, slightly over 15% of the month’s total. Earlier this month it was revealed that the Bridge accounted for just 7% of Macau’s cross- border vehicular trips.

Visitor arrivals stood at 23.81 million across the first seven months of the year, almost exactly 20% more than in the same seven-month period a year earlier.

Last year’s influx of 35.8 million tourists represented an almost 10% rise from 32.6 million in 2017. At its current growth trajectory, Macau is on track to break the symbolic 40-million mark this year, previously earmarked by Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies as the city’s “optimal tourism carrying capacity.”

The rapid rise in the number of visitors has become a source of concern for the Macau public, especially as gaming receipts and other tourism spending are growing at a much slower pace or not at all.

Casino revenues during the first half of the year contracted 0.5% compared with the equivalent period in 2018, according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

Tourism spending is also markedly down this year in per capita terms. It measured just MOP1,634 per visitor in the first three months of this year, down about 15% from a year earlier.

Tourism spending continued its decline in the second quarter, according to official data released yesterday. It fell more than 20% in per capita terms to MOP1,583, completing three consecutive quarters of decline.

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