Published: 15:26, January 25, 2023 | Updated: 14:10, January 26, 2023
Tourists swarm Macao at Lunar New Year as virus curbs eased
By Agencies

Tourists watch a performance at the Ruins of St. Paul's in South China's Macao, Jan 22, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

MACAO - The Macao Special Administrative Region has seen tens of thousands of tourists stream daily into its casinos and picturesque cobbled streets over the Lunar New Year holiday, a stark contrast to the dearth of visitors since 2020.

The Macao SAR has seen a resurgence of tourists from the Chinese mainland since Jan 8 after the SAR dropped all COVID-19 testing requirements for inbound travelers from the mainland and the Hong Kong SAR.

The Macao SAR welcomed more than 71,000 visitors on Monday, the highest single day record since the pandemic, its government said in a statement late on Tuesday.

More than 94 percent of visitors to the Macao SAR over the first three days of the Lunar New Year, Jan 21-23, came from the mainland and the neighboring HKSAR. Average daily visitor arrivals reached more than 51,000, a year-on-year surge of 217 percent, the government said

"It’s good to see people in Macao. It was lifeless during lockdown and not very good," said a man surnamed Lam, who traveled from Jiangmen in nearby Guangdong province.

More than 94 percent of visitors to the Macao SAR over the first three days of the Lunar New Year, Jan 21-23, came from the mainland and the neighboring HKSAR. Average daily visitor arrivals reached more than 51,000, a year-on-year surge of 217 percent, the government said.

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Macao had only 15,000 average daily visits in 2022.

"It’s very nice that the government has reopened the border again, so I can go anywhere freely and do not need to quarantine and visit my relatives," said a woman visiting from the HKSAR, who gave her surname as Wong.

A firework show is staged to celebrate the Spring Festival in south China's Macao, Jan 24, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Many hotel resorts on the Las Vegas style strip have been sold out for the holiday period, executives said.

Inside the city’s opulent casino resorts, visitors milled through retail stores such as Sands China's gondola filled Venetian property, while others clamoured for photos at popular tourist spots including the landmark Ruins of St Paul’s.

Local residents said they hoped the rise in visitors would bring a permanent boost to the city's economy.

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"It’s a huge difference compared to the lockdown policies during COVID and it feels like the economy can recover quickly, but I am still unemployed now because of COVID," said a local man surnamed Chan.