China Resumes Tourist Visas to Macau, Lifting Casino Stocks
(Bloomberg) -- China will resume issuing tourist visas for visitors to Macau, paving the way for the mass return of Chinese punters to the world’s largest gaming hub after months of losses.
Visas for both individual and group tours to Macau from the mainland will be restored in phases. Residents from the neighboring city of Zhuhai, in Guangdong province, will be able to get visas from Wednesday. The wider province will then follow on Aug. 26, before the rest of China on Sept. 23, said a statement Tuesday from the National Immigration Administration.
The statement provided more details on timing after it was announced in a briefing Monday that visas would be restored for Zhuhai. A Bloomberg gauge of Macau stocks jumped 7.1% on the earlier news.
The move reverses a ban implemented in late January to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It effectively allows for the revival of the gambling enclave whose revenue had been five times that of the Las Vegas Strip before the pandemic, driven largely by Chinese demand. Without Chinese visitation, Macau’s gaming revenue plunged by over 90% for four consecutive months and operators have been losing $15 million daily in expenses, according to a Morgan Stanley estimate.
In addition to the visa resumption, a two-week quarantine imposed on Macau travelers upon their return to the mainland will be lifted throughout the country from Aug. 12, China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said in a statement Monday. The quarantine rule was previously lifted for Guangdong province last month.
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The latest moves are a “huge step in the right direction,” George Choi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Citigroup Inc., wrote in a note earlier Tuesday.
Still, Sanford C. Bernstein analysts led by Vitaly Umansky cautioned that there is a risk that visa issuances could again be suspended if there is a jump in Covid-19 cases.
The coronavirus outbreak has been largely contained in Macau as well as in mainland China, although neighboring Hong Kong has seen a resurgence. Macau hasn’t found any new coronavirus cases since the end of June.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.