Macau experienced a notable surge in visitor arrivals in August, according to data released by the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC). The figures revealed that 3,221,691 (3.2 million) visitors arrived during August, marking the highest monthly count since the same month in 2019.
This development is particularly significant as it represents the first time since December 2019 that Macau has hosted over three million tourists in a single month, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Macau Business reported.
The DSEC statement highlighted that the number of visitors in August 2023 was nearly ten times higher than the count recorded in August 2022. This comparison reflects the city's emergence from a Covid-19 outbreak that necessitated a partial lockdown spanning more than two weeks in August last year.
Over the course of the first eight months of 2023, Macau welcomed a total of 17.6 million tourists, a fourfold increase compared to the same period the previous year. This figure also represents approximately two-thirds of the tourist arrivals recorded during the same January-to-August timeframe in 2019.
The data for August indicated that the majority of visitors, accounting for over 72% of the total, originated from mainland China, with their number reaching 2.3 million. Following closely were tourists from Hong Kong, with a total of 711,684 arrivals.
The growth numbers arrived just days after global investment bank Morgan Stanley revised its EBITDA estimates for the Macau gaming industry in light of several sectoral challenges. As per a recent note from Morgan Stanley analysts Praveen K Choudhary, Gareth Leung, Stephen W Grambling, and Nicholas P DeValeria, fully comparable industry EBITDA figures to those of 2019 would necessitate mass casino revenue reaching at least 120% of pre-pandemic levels, Macau Business had reported.
Morgan Stanley's report identified various factors contributing to this challenge, including increased gaming taxes, a substantial decline in VIP segment revenue by over 75% compared to 2019 levels, and a slower recovery in the slot machine sector.
Still, the Macau gaming industry seems to be rebounding with no signs of slowdown. An earlier report by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) said Macau casinos' gross gaming revenue (GGR) increased by more than 686% in August from the previous year to MOP17.2 billion patacas ($2.17 billion). August's total was also up from the GGR posted in July, which stood at MOP16.7 billion ($2.1 billion).
The figures represent about 71% of pre-pandemic levels, driven by increased tourism levels during the summer vacation period. The city reported 2.8 million visitor arrivals in July, which has returned to 78% of pre-Covid levels, according to the latest official data.