HK protests expected to slightly inflate Macau visitor arrivals

The massive Hong Kong protests against the now-suspended extradition bill, are likely to have a minor inflationary effect on Macau’s tourism arrivals, say analysts.

This year’s monthly arrivals for June have not yet been released, but visitors for the month amounted to over 2.6 million in 2018, while July arrivals reached 3 million.

Figures from the Macao Government Tourism Office showed that in June 2018, 67.3% (1.75 million) of the total arrivals came from mainland China.

According to political commentator Larry So, the demonstration in the neighboring region may have a positive impact on Macau’s tourism arrivals.

He told the Times that many mainland tourists join organized trips to both special administrative regions, but might now choose to avoid some parts in central Hong Kong. Accordingly, they might choose to stay a little longer in Macau this time.

The average length of stay of visitors in Macau is 1.3 days.

“I would say that quite a number of people would rather not go to Hong Kong. But the point is that many of the tourists’ [itineraries] includes trips to both Hong Kong and Macau” anyway, said So.

“I think [with the current situation], they will still go to Hong Kong’s Lantau Island but only in Tung Chung to shop in outlets,” he continued. “They will definitely come back to Macau and spend a day or more and in that case, Macau would benefit from these protests.”

The sociologist, who was recently in the mainland, said that many of its residents, particularly in Guangdong, are not very aware of the situation in Hong Kong.

According to a report issued by HSBC earlier this week, the continuing protests in Hong Kong will put off some 350,000 visitors from the mainland, adding that although tourist arrivals would continue to grow, they would do so at a slower rate.

HSBC has trimmed its prediction for mainland arrivals growth for the year to 9% from 9.7%.

According to reports, both Hong Kong tourism numbers and hotel occupancy rates have already slumped.

The Hong Kong Inbound Travel Association estimated that the number of organized tours to the city so far this month has dropped by 20% to 30% from the same period a year earlier.

Hong Kong businesses are also reporting that they expect sales volumes to be significantly down on account of disruptions caused by the protests.

Ahead of the official release, So expects that the number of tourists from Hong Kong has decreased significantly as they are focused on the political situation in the region. However, he did not know if this would necessarily translate into a greater number of mainlanders coming to Macau.

“We might have a little bit of increase in the tourists from China, if some of them would prefer not to go to Hong Kong [and] so will opt to visit Macau instead,” he said.

“In terms of the VIP market, I would say that because of the political situation, the VIP market [will] in a way slow down a little bit,” the sociologist added.

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