Hotels, restaurants and conventions concerned about new restrictions
Macau associations linked to tourism say they fear that the restrictions imposed by local authorities, following a new epidemic of covid-19 in the SAR, will worsen the already precarious situation of the sector.
“I think tourists from mainland China have started to lose confidence about when they can come to Macau, because they are clearly worried about being stuck here,” the vice president of the Hotel Association of Macau told Lusa. Macau, Rutger Verschuren.
Macau declared a state of immediate prevention in the early hours of Sunday, after detecting 12 cases of covid-19, and decided to carry out general screening of the population within 48 hours.
In addition to applying isolation measures in several areas of the city, the authorities have put forward new restrictions on the entry of tourists from mainland China. Those crossing borders must now present a certificate of a nucleic acid test with a negative result taken within the previous 48 hours. Previously, the deadline was seven days.
The Macau Hotel Association, which represents 59 four- and five-star establishments in the region, admitted that for public health reasons it supports the government’s prevention policy. Regarding the company, the organization considered that the “extremely stressful” measures came to destroy the recovery plans for the summer.
“Given the current situation, we can say goodbye to June and at least half of July, but we have some hope in August,” noted Vershuren, stressing that “with an epidemic like this , it takes at least two months to [the sector to start] get over. ”.
The President of the United Association of Food and Beverage Merchants of Macau also noted to Lusa that the latest outbreak and the authorities’ response program “will have an immediate impact” on the company.
“But it depends on how the government manages to control the transmission of the virus. If all goes well, I predict that within the week everything will be back to normal,” Chan Chak Mo said, stressing that he hopes the authorities will create, “later, if possible, an economic relief plan.” .
The government on Sunday announced seven measures to support Macau businesses and residents, totaling MOP 10 billion, backed by the financial reserve, ranging from tax benefits to a one-year moratorium on the repayment of subsidized loans.
“For the moment, these are good measures, but everything depends on the progress of the pandemic. If it persists and [tourists] cannot enter Macau, it could indicate an imminent and recurring problem and I think the government should look into the situation,” the lawmaker also said.
Synthia Chan, representing the field of conventions and trade fairs (MICE), a sector “continuously affected” by the pandemic, was more skeptical about the economic support announced by the executive.
“It doesn’t help the industry, as I understand it,” said the president of the Macau Trade and Exhibition Association.
“The MICE sector is highly dependent on Chinese or foreign tourists for the events to be successful,” he said, pointing out that “Macau is a very touristic destination” and that MICE travelers are “the top tourists” and those “who are ready to spend money”.
“This epidemic now, with the border restrictions – which we understand – is not going to allow the economy to recover,” she added.
Restriction and control measures against covid-19 have led Macau, which in 2019 had nearly 40 million visitors, to close the border to foreigners and impose mandatory quarantine on those arriving from outside. exception of mainland China.
Last month alone, the number of visitors fell 30.6% in annual terms, according to data released Monday by the Directorate of Statistics and Census Services (DSEC).
To cope with the decline in tourism, underlines the vice-president of the Macau Hotels Association, several hotels have “created programs to reduce costs and obtain income”.
“Many workers travel between Zhuhai [border town] and Macao, and if they can’t do it, they have to stay somewhere. Since they don’t have an apartment, they can book a hotel, but of course, [now] they can’t use the facilities because nothing is open,” he noted.
Regarding the next steps, Synthia Chan suggested that Macao look at neighboring regions and “understand how to adapt” to this new reality.
“In Singapore or Thailand, they opened [the borders], but with entry conditions: you need at least two covid-19 vaccines and tests carried out 24 or 48 hours before. I remember going to an exhibition in China and before entering the event, I had to audition there,” she said.