Struggling casinos and hotels in Macao are reporting an uptick in bookings for next month's "golden week" holidays. The recovery in bookings comes as China is expected to slowly lift restrictions for mainland visitors to the region's premier gambling destination.
According to data published by Morgan Stanley, five of the 23 Macao hotels it tracks have been fully booked for the first week of October. This coincides with China's celebrations of its "golden week" holiday, which falls between Oct. 1 and Oct. 8. The bookings reported this year still fall behind data recorded last year when 16 hotels reported full bookings over the same period.
Hotels such as StarWorld Hotel, Studio City and the Ritz-Carlton reported full booking for the first seven days of October. The same hotels also said they had reduced their room rates by up to 72% to entice more tourists to pre-book rooms. Meanwhile, hotels such as Sands Macao and MGM Macao have reportedly been struggling to secure booking despite lowering their daily rates by up to 90%.
Analysts at the U.S. investment bank said the new data showed "meaningful improvements" in the city's occupancy rates. However, room rates still "remain weak," as prices have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels amid the continued low demand.
As for the restrictions, the China government is expected to lift travel restrictions to Macao for mainland residents Sept. 23. Officials previously lifted travel restrictions to Macao for residents of China's southern Guangdong province Aug. 26.
Morgan Stanley said bookings should improve after China resumes the issuance of National Individual Visit Scheme Visas to mainland visitors. Analysts at investment bank Jeffries said the exact rate of recovery still remained unclear.
During the first two quarters of the year, Macao's gaming revenue fell to almost zero after the city was forced to close down. During the second quarter, Macao's gross gaming revenues fell by more than 90% when compared with the same quarter last year. Analysts estimate that the drop may recover slightly to 85% this month.