China reinstates tourist visas to Macau in boon for casinos

Tourists wearing masks take photographs outside the Casino Lisboa in Macau on Jan 23. (AP pic)

HONG KONG: Macau, the world’s biggest casino hub, is set to welcome an influx of gamblers after China on Tuesday announced that tourist visas, through which the majority of visitors enter the Chinese territory, would be reinstated for all provinces from Sept 23.

Casino executives and investors have been eagerly awaiting the announcement as a catalyst to reviving gaming revenue, which has slumped since February due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

China’s National Immigration Administration said, provided the domestic coronavirus situation continued to improve, residents would be able to apply for individual and group travel visas to enter the special administrative region located on the country’s southern coast.

Visitors from greater China make up over 90% of tourists to the former Portuguese colony of Macau.

Shares of Hong Kong listed casino stocks soared on Tuesday following the announcement.

Residents from the neighbouring coastal province of Guangdong on the mainland will be able to apply from Aug 26, the National Immigration Administration said.

Residents from Zhuhai city across the border from Macau are permitted from Aug 12.

The announcement comes nearly a month after China loosened coronavirus-related border restrictions between Macau and Guangdong.