MACAU: Macau gaming revenue beats analysts’ expectations in May for the first time in four months as tourism from mainland China swelled over the Golden Week holiday.
Gross gaming revenue rose 492% in May to 10.4 billion patacas (US$1.3bil or RM5.36bil), according to data from the gaming inspection and coordination bureau.
That beat the median analyst estimate of a 467% jump year-on-year.
Revenue increased 24% from the previous month, but is still down 60% from May 2019, before the pandemic hit.
Daily visitor arrivals in Macau continued to show an upward trend in May as the city tries to attract mainland gamblers who have been discouraged by a tougher visa process amid the pandemic.
Some 167,000 visitors came to Macau during the five-day Golden Week holidays, with more than 93% from China, according to the Macau government tourism office.
Average daily visitor arrivals during the five-day holiday rose 158% compared with the Spring Festival in February, and climbed 25% from last month.
Nonetheless, that figure only amounted to 21% of the figure from the same holiday week in May 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Gaming revenue quickly dropped off after Golden Week to around 250 million patacas (RM129.49mil) a day – 10% lower than in April – Credit Suisse analysts including Kenneth Fong wrote in a note on May 26, showing that a strong holiday period could not compensate for weak demand seen during the rest of the quarter.
New Covid-19 cases in China added uncertainty to the recovery path for Macau, which depends largely on mainland visitors, and the potential further tightening of Covid restrictions in the mainland could lead to a further slowdown, according to the note. Arrivals from some districts in China’s Shenzhen and Guangzhou are already required to quarantine in Macau due to the recent outbreak – measures that serve as a reminder of the risks of recovery, according to Credit Suisse.
Macau has ramped up efforts to promote tourism to mainland residents given that both sides have largely managed to contain the virus.
However, the city’s government still has tight restrictions for travellers from most spots, including neighbouring Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The city’s economy shrank 0.9% in the first quarter compared to a year ago.
The Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino operators fell 9% in May.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 1.5% in the same period. — Bloomberg