Macau December visitation drops 13.6% as Mainlanders avoid their government

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Official visitor numbers from the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) show what one might assume from the largest drop in GGR in over three years – visitation to Macau, especially from Mainland China, showed double digit drops in December.

Visitors from Mainland China, who make up over two thirds of visitors to Macau, dropped 14.5% to 2.09 million. Overall visitor arrivals dropped 13.6% to 3.08 million, the second consecutive month of decline.

The celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Macau’s Return to China featured heavy government activity in the former Portuguese colony with events throughout the month. Chinese President Xi Jinping made his longest official visit to Macau midway through the month, which caused heightened security and screening for the days surrounding the event.

Same day visitation dropped at a slower pace than overnight, dropping 12.1% to 1.61 million compared with the 15.3% drop to 1.48 million for overnight visitors. The length of stay held steady at 1.2 days.

Arrivals at the Border Gate dropped 8.0% from 1.61 million to 1.48 million. Visitation at Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge showed an larger drop than last month, falling 29.2% from 545k to 386k. As shown by visitor surveys and by a 65.5% YoY drop in Mainland Chinese arriving in Macau over the bridge, many were initially drawn to the bridge as tourism, not because it was more convenient to travel on. However, visitation to Macau from Hong Kong over the bridge saw an 11.7% increase to 230k.

Visitation by air continued to show steady growth, growing 12.6% from 292k to 328k.

Visitation by sea dropped from 694k to 463k, a 33.3% drop as other forms of transportation continue to grow in China. With the Zhuhai-Macau ferry becoming operational this month, we will see its first visitor statistics trickle into January’s visitation statistics and see its first full-month effect for February’s.