A few days ago, on July 1, a new transit visa policy that should allow Chinese citizens to stay in Macau up to 7 days instead of former 5 was introduced. Although many in the gaming industry have started rubbing their hands together right away, prominent gaming experts believe that it won’t have that much effect on the region’s gaming industry.
This measure, which initial idea is to boost up the local tourism came out at the same time when the Coordination Bureau and Gaming Inspection, which are the local gambling regulators of Macau, posted a considerable decline for a 13th consecutive month. The decline was 36.2% as compared to the same month last year, although six casino operators in the city had a overall revenue of MOP 17.4 billion in June this year.
It seems that Beijing finally got aware of the fact that due measures need to be taken in order to stabilize Macau’s economy, said Ben Lee, Managing Partner at IGamiX Management and Consulting.
Another expert on gambling Mr Glenn McCartney, Assistant Professor in Gaming and Hospitality Management at the University of Macau, said that this new policy with relaxed transit visas could be seen as a “positive sentiment towards Macau” but that it won’t solve all the major issues Macau’s casino industry has, that are actually connected with a considerable economic downturn. He has also pointed out that these issues need to be tackled as soon as possible so that the city and its economy can move forward. Mr McCartney thinks that the key is in finding out how public and private policies can work together. In his opinion Macau’s economy is currently “very fragmented”. This means that the city officials should all work together in order to create a unique brand that would really make Macau a world class gaming and tourism destination.
However, the above mentioned announcement about the relaxed transit visa rules did influence a major climb of 4 Macau’s gambling operator stocks on Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This was the first major climb since 2011. Wynn Macau, Sands China and the Galaxy Entertainment Group rose between 12% and 14%. MGM China increased 16%.
Maximum stay in Macau reduced for Chinese citizens
In the past 7 years the maximum stay in Macau for Chinese citizens was reduced twice. First it was cut in 2008 from 14 days to 7, because the Chinese government wanted to prevent their citizens to travel from Macau to other destinations during these 14 days and in the last year they have even cut it to 5 days.
But Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leon Vai-tac is optimistic and said that this newest visa policy is seen as very positive from the side of Macau’s officials, but that it is too early to predict its effects. China government wanted this time with this measure to boost the city economy.