Searches for Macao surge 330% on travel platforms after SAR eases policies
Published: Sep 25, 2022 08:05 PM Updated: Sep 25, 2022 07:53 PM
Food stores at Rua do Cunha street in Macao Photo: IC

Food stores at Rua do Cunha street in Macao Photo: IC

Searches for China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) climbed on mainland travel platforms over the weekend after the SAR said that it expects to receive tour groups from the Chinese mainland starting from November - the first time in almost three years.

Observers said that the move is set to revive Macao's tourism industry and economy, sending the SAR on the fast track of a revival, as mainland tour groups are its key source of visitors.

The news of the relaxation was unveiled by Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng at a press conference on Saturday. He also said that electronic visas are set to be re-issued between late October and early November, as approved by the central government.

Ho said that tour groups from South China's Guangdong Province, East China's Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, and Shanghai will come first, adding that the initial target is to receive about 40,000 visitors a day.

Macao has implemented strict COVID-19 restrictions, with tight border controls in place since 2020. For all of 2020, the total number of inbound tourists was about 5.9 million, a decrease of 85 percent compared with 2019, according to news site

Within five hours after the news was announced, searches for Macao were up 330 percent, and searches for "Macao tour guide" increased by 241 percent, online travel platform Mafengwo said in a statement to the Global Times on Sunday.

The mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) are the city's two most important sources of tourists. In 2018 and 2019, tourists from the mainland accounted for 70.6 percent and 70.9 percent of the total number of visitors, and Hong Kong tourists accounted for 17.7 percent and 18.7 percent, according to the report on

On Friday, Hong Kong announced the loosening of COVID-19 quarantine measures from Monday, meaning no more hotel quarantine. Only a three-day self-monitoring period at home is needed for arrivals, ending the hotel quarantine policy, which was in place for around two years.

Together with the quarantine policies, nucleic acid tests conducted 48 hours before flying to Hong Kong will be replaced with a rapid antigen test before boarding, John Lee, chief executive of the HKSAR, told a press briefing on Friday.

Xu Xiaolei, marketing manager at China's CYTS Tours Holding Co, which operates at scenic spots, told the Global Times on Sunday that the loosening policies from Hong Kong and Macao will be welcomed by the tourism industry, noting that the two SARs always serve as pilot areas in the country.

"But we will wait for the exact timeline and rules of how the following steps will be taken, and resume relevant tourism products in a timely but cautions manner," Xu said.

The industry player also noted that although the COVID-19 epidemic has largely impeded personnel exchanges, mainland tourists' enthusiasm to travel to Macao has been climbing in recent days, Xu added.

According to a statement on the official website of the Macao SAR government, the fresh move is one of several policies the central government has launched to support the economic recovery of Macao after the epidemic, including infrastructure construction and closer integration with the mainland.

"The epidemic has had a great impact on the economy of Macao. The SAR government is very grateful to the central government for its concern for Macao… Macao must revive tourism to restore economic vitality, revive people's livelihoods, and accelerate the construction of a world tourism and leisure center," Ho said in the statement.

Global Times