Macao eases travel restrictions on mainland visitors in boost for tourism
Published: Nov 24, 2021 08:03 PM
Tourists view the Christmas decorations at the Largo Do Senado in Macao, south China, Dec. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Tourists view the Christmas decorations at the Largo Do Senado in Macao, south China, Dec. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Wednesday eased travel restrictions on visitors from several places on the mainland, where recent COVID-19 flare-ups have been effectively reined in, in a timely adjustment that is set to boost the SAR's tourism sector.

Following the move, Macao's hotel occupancy rate went up by about 30 percent compared with the previous day, Chinese online travel agency platform Qunar told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The Macao Health Bureau announced on Tuesday that with effect from Wednesday, measures for individuals who have been to areas including Tianshui, Northwest China's Gansu Province, Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Erenhot, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region will be lifted.

Separately, the Macao authorities said the validity period for a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test result for air passengers inbound from the mainland had been adjusted back to seven days, from 48 hours.

The previous stricter requirement was applied by Macao during the recent flare-up of COVID-19 infections on the mainland.

The Chinese mainland on Tuesday reported four new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said in its daily report on Wednesday.

"The timely adjustment is a positive sign to help restore the tourism industry, a core sector for Macao," Jiang Yiyi, a professor of the leisure sports and tourism school of Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Over half of mainland visitors to Macao come from its neighbor - South China's Guangdong Province.

Although China's outbound tourism showed a steep decline in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the number of mainland visitors to Macao has been on a steady increase, according to a recent report by the China Tourism Academy.

Due to effective epidemic prevention and control, and smooth policy coordination, the market for mainland tourists visiting Macao has shown obvious signs of recovery, becoming a bright spot for outbound tourism.

The city topped all outbound destinations ahead of China's Hong Kong SAR, Vietnam and South Korea, according to the report.

"The recovery, which is expected to continue next year, is inseparable from the central government's support for Macao's economic development as it was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic," Jiang noted.

Macao has also been actively promoting itself as a safe and quality destination for mainland tourists, organizing promotional events in different mainland cities and offering discounts for payments made on electronic platforms.

Macao's economy expanded 32.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, as the city saw further improvements in tourism and gaming services.

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