Macau delegate to the National People’s Congress told Portuguese-language broadcaster TDM News about the plan, which will let cardholders bypass the queues under the current manual paper system and dramatically speed up entry and exit.
Beijing has named Guangdong as the first province eligible to replace the current travel permit booklet system, and it’s possible the system could be operational in time for the Chinese New Year holiday beginning on 31st January.
Timing will depend on technological coordination with the Macau side, according to investment brokerage Union Gaming Research Macau, which reported on the plan in a note to clients. Time also will be factor if visa holders wait until their existing papers expire to switch over, which is likely, the firm said.
Still, it comes as “very good news,” UGRM said, and not only because it will get visitors through immigration and into the city faster. “Guangdong represents the largest share of total mainland visitors, and represents an even higher share of IVS visitors,” the firm said. “In our view, IVS visitors are a much higher quality visitor from a GGR perspective than non-IVS visitors. As such, we view a smart card system as very beneficial to Macau, especially as it seems that IVS visitation is likely to increase at a much faster rate than non-IVS visitation.”
UGRM believes the cards will be made available to residents of other provinces eventually. “The system will ultimately be applicable to all IVS holders (if not all Chinese visitors, including those with tour group visas).”