MACAU DAILY TIMES » Tourism sector hopes for recovery amid staff shortage

With With the resumption of quarantine-free travel between Macau and Zhuhai, the travel sector is confident it will see a boost in visitor arrivals over the next few months.

“In the second half of the year, many activities and larger exhibition activities will take place; we believe the number of visitors will gradually resume with a more stable pandemic,” said Wong Fai, president of the Macau Tourism Tourism Service Innovation Association and the Macau Travel Industry Council.

On Saturday, the number of visitors arriving in Macau was recorded at nearly 17,000, the highest daily visitor record since the resumption of quarantine-free visits in Zhuhai in early August, according to the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO).

Between August 12 and 18, Macau received a total of 81,798 visitors, a daily average of 11,685, representing a 56% increase compared to the daily average of 7,490 visitors between August 5 and 11, and 3,609% more than the daily average. (315) in July, albeit coming off a low base.

However, according to Wong, they have received information that mainland authorities are “stricter [issuing] individual tourist visas to Macau,” Wong said, as quoted in a TDM report.

In May, a note from Brokerage Bernstein said that “recent checks of their channel have shown that frequent players in Macau have seen their visas denied by immigration offices in China.”

Meanwhile, Wong said travelers hope authorities can resume group travel to Macau and extend the valid nucleic acid test (NAT) period between Macau and the mainland to seven days.

Group visas are currently still banned since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

However, Macao Tour Guides Union (MTGU) president Lei Man Hou said the level of visitor numbers in the second half of 2022 will probably not reach pre-pandemic levels even if the pandemic is stable.

“Many tour guides have changed careers to part-time catering or other essential jobs, so [lack of employees in the sector] it’s serious,” Lei noted.

According to Lei, there were about 1,000 tour guides before the pandemic, of which over 70% were aged 40 or older. Additionally, fewer people are applying for jobs in the travel industry because there have been no visitors traveling to Macau during the pandemic and no need for foreign-language tour guides.

According to the statistics of the second quarter of 2022 published by the Macau Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), the number of visitors arriving in Macau reached 1,588,260 in the second quarter, representing a 27.5% year-on-year decrease year. The number of visitors joining local tour groups in the second quarter fell 70.8% year-on-year to 6,393, and the number of local tour visitors fell 35.8%.

Lei suggests the authorities start more training courses for tour guides. It is believed that around 700 to 800 tour guides will choose to work for the industry again as the tourism industry restarts.

MGTO director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes also proposed that authorities try to use the online “travel to the cloud” program to stimulate the domestic travel industry. This program may include proposals for the authorities to encourage Hong Kong’s travel industry to promote Macau’s attractions.

A local tour guide who has worked in the travel industry for over 10 years agreed on the benefits of the online program for MGTO.

“The management of the online program is good, but it needs cooperation with relevant training courses and the formation of group teams,” said Ding Fang, a local tour guide.

Guida added that since the age of local tour guides is older, there was a potential difficulty for them to try such a web-based training system.

The tour guide, who requested anonymity, also suggests that the government subsidize tour guides who will join the training. Staff Reporter

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