2021-05-03 10:32


Macau Borders Could Soon Reopen via "Travel Bubble"!

Source: Bangkok Post

The Ruins of Saint Paul's Cathedral, Macau's most famous landmark, are filled with visitors and tour guides holding flags aloft in the run-up to China's "golden week" holiday.

It is a scene neighbouring Hong Kong has not experienced for more than a year since the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, putting the city into lockdown and keeping travellers away.

Capturing the buzz outside St Paul's in a live broadcast on Tuesday, Hong Kong restaurateur and YouTube celebrity Alex Yeung Kwun-wah spoke to a man surnamed Li from Shunde, in Guangdong province, who is visiting with his wife and son for the five-day holiday starting on May 1, Labour Day.

"Even if Hong Kong reopens its borders to travellers, I will prefer Macau as a family trip destination because its pandemic situation is much more stable," Li said.

His comments reflected perceptions of the Covid-19 situation in Macau compared with Hong Kong, and indicated that a "travel bubble" between the neighbouring cities might not happen anytime soon.

Tourism has bounced back in the casino hub which has had no local Covid-19 cases for nearly 400 days, with an increasing number of visitors coming from the mainland.

In March, Macau saw its highest number of visitors in a single month since before the pandemic, when 754,541 people arrived. High occupancy rates at five-star hotels during Golden Week also point to a revival.

Hoffman Ma Ho-man, executive director of Success Universe Group, said up to 90% of rooms in Ponte 15 Resort Macau, the company's hotel and casino resort, were booked mainly by mainlanders attracted by affordable room rates and quarantine-free measures.

"There were extra flights from Shanghai to Macau during the long holiday. I believe the visitor flow will be quite promising," he said.

Hong Kong's battered tourism players may be eager for a slice of the Macau pie but they will have to wait, not least because of concerns there about importing Covid-19 from the city.

Hong Kong floated the possibility of a "travel bubble" between the two special administrative regions on Wednesday, only to receive the cold shoulder.

The lukewarm response reflected significant changes in the regional mix of visitors to the casino city over the past two years, Wu Wai-fong, chairwoman of the Macau Tourist Guide Association, told the South China Morning Post.

Macau's requirements for incoming travellers also deterred visitors from Hong Kong, she added. Those arriving must present a green "health code" and a Covid-19 test certificate valid for seven days before they can enter Macau.

China was currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau and for now, Wu said, the whole tourism industry was geared towards promoting the casino hub as a safe destination for mainlanders.

"Hong Kong will still be our important visitor source market, but you can't have your cake and eat it," she said, referring to worries in Macau about Covid-19 arriving with visitors from next door.

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