Tourism bureau inspected skyrocketing hotel prices

Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes

The issue of skyrocketing hotel room prices during the Lunar New Year holiday period has been rectified, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), said yesterday.

On the sidelines of a government event, the tourism official was asked to comment on the scenario.

As compared to pre-Covid times, prices for hotel accommodation in Macau have regularly reached higher levels – such as HKD10,000 for an entry-level room – during major China holiday seasons.

In response, Senna Fernandes said her bureau had contacted hotels and travel agencies about the matter. It was revealed that rooms sold via hotels’ own channels charge more reasonable prices.

Foreign online travel agencies (OTAs) were responsible for increased room prices. Senna Fernandes said her bureau had sent letters to hotel operators and some hotels had then negotiated with OTAs and had managed the situation.

For example, an entry-level room at Grand Emperor Hotel was on lease on for about HKD2,600 last week, but yesterday the same room type was priced at HKD1,300, a 50% drop.

Some hotels are still facing a workforce shortage, so they have had to block out a portion of rooms during the Lunar New Year period. On this, Senna Fernandes said the MGTO is gathering workforce data from the hospitality industry.

She also said the promotional strategy will move from counting the number of tourists to enticing them to stay longer in Macau.

Before Covid-19, Macau employed the former strategy. Although it had boosted the city’s visitor arrival counts to nearly 40 million in 2019, the massive number of arrivals had overwhelmed regular people’s lives, causing difficulties in daily commuting, dining and hygiene, among other areas.

Speaking about Macau-Hong Kong ferry services, Senna Fernandes said that over recent days, about 7,000 Hong Kong residents had entered Macau by ferry daily. She believes that arrivals can rise to 10,000 at maximum.

The MGTO has reserved MOP30 million for the Hong Kong tourists travel promotion scheme that offers eligible tourists a complimentary return ticket to Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the bureau is contemplating seven-seater group tours targeting Hong Kong tourists.

Yesterday, the MGTO organized a religious ritual at the Sai Van Lake Square to pray for unobstructed events over the Lunar New Year holidays. Senna Fernandes expects 80,000 to be viewing the Lunar New Year Float Parade along the route this year. The main stand of the event has a capacity of 1,500 members. The event will be aired live on public broadcaster TDM.

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