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MGTO director says operators should prepare for a quiet summer holiday

Macau’s gaming and integrated resort operators should prepare for the borders to remain closed during this year’s summer holiday period, according to director of the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes.

While the MGTO is working with the hospitality industry to offer more promotions for local residents in August, Senna Fernandes told media on Wednesday that border restrictions won’t be easily loosened during the summer and that visitors would therefore be unable to enter freely.

“It is expected that border controls would remain limited in the short term,” she said. “Chinese or foreign visitors are unlikely to enter Macau, visitation will be limited to certain groups of visitors.”

Senna Fernandes also revealed the MGTO had recently initiated plans to arrange tours between Macau and Hengqin but was forced to suspend those plans due to current border controls.

While the occupancy rate of five-star hotels has shown some very slight improvement recently, albeit only up from 6% to 10%, the MGTO has been in discussions with hotel operators to offer more discounts and promotions for local residents.

“Residents aren’t able to travel anywhere under this pandemic either,” Senna Fernandes said. “Schools will end their academic year in late July, so we encourage operators to provide more discounts to locals in August to drive expenditure on hospitality, dining and shopping in IRs.”

The reopening of Macau’s borders with Guangdong Province and Hong Kong has been a hot topic of discussion in recent weeks, but has been delayed following a recent small outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong. There could also be further delays after a more significant outbreak in Beijing this week, with 137 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the past six days.

In the meantime, Macau has started sending chartered ferries to Hong Kong International Airport to pick up residents returning from overseas. The ferries will run until 17 July.

More than 800 residents are registered to return and the MGTO expects more than 1,000 residents to come back to Macau in the coming month.

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