Macau announces partial restart of tourist visas, hoping for casino revival


  • World
  • Monday, 10 Aug 2020

FILE PHOTO: A man wears a mask as he walks in front of the closed Grand Lisboa casino, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Macau, China February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Macau's government on Monday announced that tourist visas, through which the majority of gamblers visit casinos in the Chinese territory, will be reinstated for the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, paving the way for a revival of visitors.

Macau's Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U announced that the highly anticipated individual visit scheme (IVS) would resume from Aug. 12.

Casinos in the world's biggest gambling hub have experienced heavy losses since February when travel dried up due to the coronavirus. Greater China accounts for more than 90% of Macau's tourists.

Executives have said that without a resumption of the IVS scheme there will not be much hope for casino operators.

The announcement comes nearly a month after China loosened coronavirus-related border restrictions between Macau and the neighbouring coastal province of Guangdong.

The direct impact on gaming revenue from the Zhuhai IVS restart is likely to be limited, said Vitaly Umansky, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong.

"However, the restart of IVS and group visa issuance (which has been suspended since late January) is another baby step in the right direction as China and Macau slowly loosen travel between the two jurisdictions."

(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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