ynn Macau fell to its lowest price in more than two weeks, leading declines in casino shares after a senior Macau official said the city wants to study restrictions on mainland Chinese tourists to ease overcrowding. The government will approach China’s central government in Beijing to analyze Macau’s capacity for visitors, and to consider how “too many tourists impact residents’ quality of life,” local broadcaster Teledifusao de Macau cited the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng as saying on a radio talk-show.
Wynn Macau dropped 3.7 percent at the close of trading in Hong Kong. Galaxy Entertainment Group and Sands China fell 2.7 percent, SJM Holdings declined 2.3 percent, MGM China Holdings lost 2 percent and Melco Crown Entertainment fell 1.7 percent. The benchmark Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in December urged Macau to diversify away from its reliance on casinos, and turn the city into a world tourism and leisure center. Macau’s casino revenue slumped an eighth straight month in January for the longest losing streak on record, as Xi’s two-year long crackdown on official corruption and stricter travel rules have deterred high rollers from entering the territory.
There will be talks between Macau and mainland authorities from the capital and provinces, the Macau Daily Times reported yesterday, citing Tam who spoke to reporters on Feb. 19. China introduced the so-called Individual Visit Scheme in 2003 to allow mainland residents to visit Macau and Hong Kong by obtaining entry permits without the need to travel with tour groups. The program was first implemented in four Guangdong cities in the south and extended to 49 cities throughout China.
The number of mainland Chinese visitors to Macau for the first four days of the Lunar New Year rose 6.7 percent to 443,421, compared with the same lunar calendar period a year ago, according data from the Macau Government Tourist Office.
Hong Kong is also assessing concerns over overcrowding, and the larger city next to Macau will need to discuss with Beijing on whether to restrict or reduce the number of China’s visitors, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters today.
“I don’t agree on expanding China individual visitor scheme because Hong Kong has limited capacity,” Leung said, adding the number of Chinese travelers to Hong Kong fell slightly over the festive season.
China’s Lunar New Year started from Feb. 19 this year, while the country’s public holiday for the festival is from Feb. 18 to Feb. 24. Hong Kong markets reopened yesterday after a two-day break.