Macao sets a firm foundation

Decisive action and vigilance by the Macao government and local residents, with support from the central government, have kept Macao’s confirmed Covid-19 cases to 46 – with no fatalities – and no new infections since June 26.

Their concerted efforts have ensured control and containment measures such as social distancing, contact tracing, and the mandatory wearing of protective face coverings in casinos, government offices, schools, and on public transport remain effective.

To guard against imported cases, Macao’s border closure has remained largely in place, except to visitors from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. Entry requirements for Hong Kong and Taiwan visitors will involve a negative Covid-19 nucleic acid test result issued within the past 24 hours, and the past 7 days respectively; including a 14-day quarantine in designated facilities. For visitors from mainland China, they must possess a certificate of negative result or a certificate of specimen collection for Covid-19 nucleic acid test issued within the past 7 days.

The Hongkong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will be instrumental in tourism recovery, as China reinstates tourist visas to Macao ‪from September 23, 2020‬

Home team first

With travel into and out of Macao likely to remain tightly regulated for some time, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has devised a programme to encourage domestic tourism.

Macao Ready Go! (MRG) is part of the government’s platform of economic revival measures. It encourages locals to rediscover their own home, through special offers such as markdowns in retail, leisure and entertainment venues, as well as themed packages are consolidated through an e-coupon programme.

Local tours comprising of 25 itineraries have also been launched, including a behind-the scenes visit to Macau International Airport for insights into flight procedures at Air Macau, coupled with a private jet experience at Macau Jet. The most popular option is the “Helicopter Ride Experience”, and this offering will be extended to cope with resounding demand. Tours have been grouped under “Community-based” or “Leisure”, with prices ranging from MOP$18 (US$2) to MOP$398 (US$50) and participants are entitled to a subsidy. Fees will cover sightseeing, catering, tour guide services and insurances, which will give the industry a much-needed boost.

Take a leisurely stroll down Rua da Felicidade, popular for its delicious local delicacies and heritage shuttered terraces

Full recovery on the horizon

Arrivals from mainland China have seen a slow but steady increase since the gradual reopening of individual and group permits to Macao began in August.

Indeed, MGTO spared no effort in exciting potential mainland visitors with a spate of promotional campaigns. In tandem with Macao Economic Bureau (DSE), the Greater Bay Area Mega Rewards Festival was unveiled. It is a joint effort to support the digital platform Alipay in organising multiple online and offline discounts and promotional activities targeting Guangdong province. So far, over 20,000 retail brands and specialty shops such as cosmetics, pharmacies, catering, supermarkets and chain stores in Macao have signed up, and over 10 million e-coupons have been sold to date.

Meanwhile, the Macao SAR government is gearing up for a nationwide campaign through collective promotional efforts together with local and mainland partners of major platforms such as Alipay, UnionPay, Alibaba, Tencent to inspire visitors from the mainland to come visit Macao. Under the MRG umbrella, MGTO launched an e-platform featuring Macao’s SMEs, travel trade, Air Macau and other partners in promoting Macao as a destination to lure more visitors and stimulate spending.

A major Macao tourism promotion is coming up later this month in Beijing, ahead of China’s National Day “golden week” to further signal that Macao is ready to safely welcome visitors. More details on the event will be announced shortly.

MGTO plans to launch promotions in other destinations similar to those that are planned for launch in Beijing and other mainland cities once travel restrictions are removed. For now, MGTO continues to sustain travel aspirations among potential visitors through online promotional activities. Going forward, the concept of travel bubbles will most likely play a pivotal role in boosting tourism, and with quarantine requirements lifted for all inbound mainland Chinese citizens effective July 15, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge is highly anticipated to play a key role in facilitating travel between these regions.

Rebuilding confidence

Key tourism players have demonstrated commitment to uphold health and safety protocols to guests and staff members, in a bid to reassure domestic and future overseas visitors.

The health and safety of casino employees and patrons are also of utmost importance, in maintaining Macao’s reputation for being a gaming mecca. To gain entry, visitors must adhere to guidelines which operators have developed in conjunction with Macao’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). Casino staff are also being progressively slated for Covid-19 tests since mid July.

In rebuilding traveller confidence, Macau Explorer Cultural Travel has rolled out a host of health measures, from proactive distribution of face masks and advocating social distancing, to adapting technology in its bid to enhance health measures that are relevant for the current climate.

TeamLab, an interactive digital art museum at Venetian Macao explores humans’ connection with nature
TeamLab, an interactive digital art museum at Venetian Macao explores humans’ connection with nature

Sands Resorts Macao is the first hospitality group in Macao to receive certification from global certification organisation Bureau Veritas for exceeding all relevant local anti-epidemic regulations and requirements. Sands SafeStay, a comprehensive programme on cleanliness and disinfection measures, ensure the safety of staff and guests by focusing on sanitatisation, prevention and the promotion of contactless services. Paving the way are the Eiffel Tower and teamLab SuperNature, which are equipped with e-ticketing capabilities. Guests are now able to purchase tickets through through Wechat and other mobile apps, and gain access by scanning a QR code.

A kaleidoscope of entertainment options await visitors at City of Dreams
A kaleidoscope of entertainment options await visitors at City of Dreams

At Melco Resorts & Entertainment, the “Play Safe” initiative sees a dedicated team to oversee and perform additional room inspections in ensuring that rooms are cleaned according to existing procedures, with corrective coaching applied to rectify any shortfalls.

Ticking all the right boxes – to even exceeding mandated standards in health and safety protocols – Macao has illustrated, it is only through solidarity and cooperation between the private sectors, NTO and the government that the tourism recovery is possible, and its multiplier effect, harnessed.

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