Artists perform dragon dances at an event celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rabbit in Macao, southern China, on Jan 24, 2023. (PHOTO/ XINHUA)
MACAO - With inbound travel restrictions eased, the hustle and bustle returned to China's Macao Special Administrative Region (Macao SAR) during the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year.
With daily inbound visitors hitting a record high in three years since the outbreak of the pandemic, the hot tourist spots in the Macao SAR had to limit crowds at peak times during the festival.
According to Macao's Public Security Police Force, a daily average of 61,000 visitors entered Macao from Jan 21 to 24, the first four days of the seven-day public holiday in the mainland that ended on Friday, marking a threefold rise year on year
On the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, a main avenue at the heart of the Macao Peninsula, locals and tourists alike swarmed in to take snaps on the road that is normally full of traffic all day long.
To provide tourists with unique travel experience, the government of the Macao SAR sponsored to turn the busy road into a pedestrian lane in the first three days of the Year of the Rabbit which began on Jan 22.
During the three days, the road was dotted with rabbit-themed decorations, artificial vegetation and cloud-shaped lighting equipment. Various performances were also staged.
It was so heartwarming that tables and benches were arranged along the road for visitors to have a rest.
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A Macao resident surnamed Ho said he chose to bring his children to take a walk on the avenue on the first day of the New Year especially. "We are very happy to see the hustle and bustle finally returning to Macao," he told Xinhua.
The Macao Government Tourism Office also organized a series of other traditional celebrations for the festival, such as the street tour of a more than 200-meter-long "dancing golden dragon," dazzling floats and passionate performances along main roads, and glittering fireworks that lit up the night sky above the sea.
Macao has welcomed a surge of tourists from near and far since Jan 8, when negative nucleic acid test results for COVID-19 were no longer required for visitors entering Macao from the mainland, China's Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan region. In addition, no prior approval or quarantine is required for foreigners to enter Macao.
A fireworks show is staged to celebrate the Spring Festival in south China's Macao, Jan 24, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
According to Macao's Public Security Police Force, a daily average of 61,000 visitors entered Macao from Jan 21 to 24, the first four days of the seven-day public holiday in the mainland that ended on Friday, marking a threefold rise year on year. Among the visitors, over 50 percent came from the mainland and 30 percent from Hong Kong.
On Jan 24, the third day of the Lunar New Year, the number of visitors entering Macao topped 90,000, hitting a new record high since the outbreak of the pandemic.
READ MORE: Macao CE vows to focus on economic recovery, diversification
Some restaurants along the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro said they decided to resume service in advance during the holiday due to a surge in customers. At a Philippine fast food chain, customers of different nationalities lined up in long queues to order food.
Tracy, a 25-year-old from the Philippines who has been working in Macao, said she and her friends gathered at the restaurant to celebrate the festival. "We want to experience traditional Chinese culture. It's really exciting," she said.
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, said the good start of the tourism market helps bring confidence for the whole year. "We hope consumers will continue spending generously and help with the economic recovery," she added.
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