Tour groups from mainland China to Macau are restarting today, as the country finalizes its opening-up policy, with both Hong Kong and Macau fighting to get their share of the pent-up demand from their neighbor.

According to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, this is now the ‘second phase of China’s outbound tourism recovery’, as the nation opens up to 20 countries, 11 of which are in Asia Pacific.

This includes Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and more.

Despite the expectation for pent-up demand, the analysts at COTRI note that ‘demand for group travel is likely to diminish’, noting that ‘“First-time travelers from lower-tier Chinese cities might still cling to cheap mass market package tours, but for most destinations and service providers they will create more problems than profit.’

The opening up so far has boded well for Macau, given that it shares a border with China and is now facilitating visa processing for those wishing to visit.

Other jurisdictions, such as the Philippines, will have it tougher as China has implemented a black list for gamblers and oftentimes will not issue visas for punters wishing to depart the country in order to gamble.

But, despite the possible limitations, outbound Chinese tourism is expected to skyrocket, with 170 million trips seen in 2019, expected to reach 228 million in 2030.

The target of 200 million outbound Chinese tourists is expected to be reached by 2028.

In order to tap into this demand, Hong Kong has already announced that it will be sponsoring 500,000 free airline tickets – not only for China, but also worldwide, focused first on the APAC region.

Macau has announced a similar policy, aiming to distribute 120,000 airline tickets this year as it hopes to reach its 2019 peak of almost 40 million tourists annually.


Tour companies are also being sponsored by the local government, with nearly 90 agencies signed up to receive support from the local tourism bureau.

The aim is also to boost overnight tourism, with packages up to $50 for travelers coming from China visitors who are coming from outside of the neighboring Guangdong province.

Those within the province are still eligible for promotions of up to $35.

Macau is now on a rebound, welcoming a record-breaking 90,000 tourists in the peak of Chinese New Year and aiming for an average of up to 20,000, if it can continue to register the high number of Hong Kong visitors it has seen recently.

Macau’s tourism body expects that many of the long-haul visitors will be arriving via Hong Kong, with joint tour programs with the neighboring city to drive initial visitation.