Our Desk | A not-so-golden week

Lynzy Valles

The streets of Leal Senado leading up to the Ruins of St Paul have not been crowded for the past – at least – seven months, due to the city’s entry and travel restrictions amid Covid-19.
In the beginning, everyone found it weird and almost eerie that one could count on one hand the numbers of residents walking along that street.
Apparently, it has, for some time, been considered normal that one would not have to try so hard to make one’s way to the Ruins of St Paul, given the lack of foot traffic – or at least not be annoyed by the fact that there is a lot of luggage alongside the streets, rendering them unwalkable.
Even amid the resumption of visas to Guangdong residents on August 26, there hasn’t been much of a difference in terms of foot traffic in the city center – nor in the city’s entertainment resorts.
The SAR only welcomed some 10,000 to 15,000 daily visitor arrivals from the province last month.
The reinstatement of the Individual Visit Scheme has been long-awaited for the government as well as gaming operators, as only then will it be a sign of economic recovery. As said by Ho Iat Seng, the effect of the pandemic has shown that the city is overreliant on the casino industry, as several SMEs have closed, affecting thousands of local and non-local residents.
In any case, government officials and gaming representatives have been careful about giving their estimates on the number of possible tourist arrivals in the SAR.
The tourism board is looking at some 12,000 to 16,000 daily visitor arrivals, while the Chief Executive has expected some 20,000 daily arrivals from the mainland.
Preliminary data shows that there were a total of over 120,000 tourist arrivals in the first six days of the Golden Week – which represents an 86.6% year-on-year drop.
Hotel occupancy – according to the tourism board – was around 40% for 5-star hotels, and some 30% for the lower rating hotels.
Although the numbers are far from usual, the board still seems pleased with what the city is attaining in terms of tourist numbers and hotel occupancy rates.
The massive drop isn’t a surprise. Actually, I feel like the surprise is that it even recorded over 20,000 visitor arrivals on some days, noting that the central government had already encouraged these people to travel within the country. Although that included Macau, I believe that getting the Covid-19 test may have discouraged many of them from coming.
But even on the mainland alone, domestic travel was down nearly a quarter from 542 million to 425 million.
Although the SAR has not recorded such strong numbers for this year’s national holiday, local residents have somewhat enjoyed the long weekend.
Apparently, staycations aren’t really over for local residents.
Several integrated resorts, particularly 5-star ones, are still offering good deals for locals.
On Agoda alone, 3 to 4-star hotels in the Macau peninsula still have their prices as low as 200 patacas, while rooms in the Cotai Strip start from 800 patacas.
I know that a lot of locals and non-locals alike have been taking up these offers, as when the city goes back to its pre-pandemic levels and tourists return to the city, staycations will be a rare activity, unlike now, where families are still opting to stay in hotels despite having finished the summer break.
This Golden Week isn’t so bad after all – at least for the locals who get to enjoy further promotions during their long weekend.

Categories Opinion