Macau’s visitor arrivals slow

Visitors to Macau grew by about 12 per cent in 2008, slower than the previous year as tighter visa rules and an economic slump curbed travel to the Chinese gambling city, government figures showed on Friday.

Total arrivals in the southern Chinese enclave reached 30.1 million last year, up 11.8 per cent from 2007, the government’s Statistics and Census Service said in a statement. Last year, arrivals surged almost 23 per cent from 2006.

Arrivals in December fell 2.7 per cent from 2007 – the first monthly year-on-year decline since June 2003, the government said.

Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, has seen its booming gambling industry cool after Beijing recently began limiting the frequency and duration of travel by mainland residents.

The global financial and economic crisis has also taken a toll.

Despite the restrictions, visitors from mainland China increased by 17.7 per cent last year from 2007. (AP)