Chinese government might increase visa restrictions to Macau

China may increase, yet again, individual visa restrictions to Macau in October, news agency Lusa reported. Quoting an unnamed source, it said that if the Chinese government goes ahead with the move, it can have an impact on the gaming revenues and number of visitors who visit the SAR.

According to the same source, the alert was left by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah at the Legislative Assembly last week, when he said that next year gaming revenues would be growing more “modestly” and the sector could also face a “negative growth.”

This could mean that the Chinese government was planning to increase restrictions on the number of individual visas issued to mainland visitors wanting to visit the SAR, the report said. Earlier this year China had taken measures to reduce the issuance of individual visas to Macau.

Under the new scheme, mainland visitors are only allowed to travel to the SAR once every two months. Since 2004, when new gaming companies joined the market, the gross revenue of casinos which focus on direct and indirect taxes applied by the government more than doubled to USD 10.4 billion. Between January and June this year, that number increased by 54.5 percent to USD 7,496 billion.

Also in the tourism sector, the number of visitors grew from 16.6 million in 2004 to 27.9 million last year. Besides in the first half of this year, tourism recorded high of 18.1 percent receiving almost 15 million visitors.

Faced with such a strong economic growth and with several casinos and hotels yet to open, Chinese authorities are likely to reduce the number of times it allows a mainlander to visit Macau on an individual visa. As such, new restrictions could see mainlanders only being allowed an individual visa every six months in the new rules, the report said.