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Visa expansions and economic integration propel Macau’s gaming industry: analyst 


The recent visa expansions and economic integration initiatives between Macau and mainland China suggest a significant boost for Macau’s gaming industry, notes Vitaly Umansky, senior analyst at Seaport Research.

The analyst views this strategic move as pivotal not only in streamlining travel logistics but also in fostering stronger economic ties, potentially heralding a new era of growth for the region.

Umansky highlights the recent expansion of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) as a crucial development. ‘The IVS expansion, now covering 59 mainland Chinese cities, marks a significant step forward in facilitating travel for mid and high-end visitors,’ he notes.

Moving away from the group visa scheme, this expansion simplifies the entry process, rendering Macau more accessible to a broader spectrum of travelers. Umansky emphasizes the flexibility afforded by IVS visas, which permit single entry with options for three-month or one-year validity, enabling visitors to return to Macau as desired.

In addition to visa reforms, Umansky points to the recent visit of Xia Baolong, Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the Central Government, as a testament to China’s commitment to bolstering ties with Macau. Despite initial concerns about its potential impact on gross gaming revenue (GGR), historical data suggests that past visits have not led to abnormal fluctuations in GGR.

Umansky also underscores the strategic significance of including eight new cities in the IVS program, particularly those from less affluent regions. ‘This move underscores the government’s commitment to promoting tourism and economic development across diverse regions of China,’ he explains. While these cities may currently lack significant airlift capacity, ongoing efforts to improve connectivity, such as the high-speed rail link between Zhuhai Jinwan airport and Macau, are expected to enhance accessibility in the long term.

In 2023, Zhuhai airport handled 11.5 million passengers (about 90 percent of the traffic in 2019) with service to 84 mainland cities, indicating its growing importance as a transport hub.

Visa expansions and economic integration propel Macau's gaming industry: analyst 
Zhuhai Airport

The analyst points out the strategic positioning of Zhuhai Jinwan airport as a gateway to Macau, offering a cost-effective alternative for travelers. This aligns with the broader vision of the Greater Bay Area initiative, aimed at fostering closer economic cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Umansky concludes, ‘the continued visa expansions for Macau (and Hong Kong) with respect to IVS, group, business, along with the continued focus on integration and promotion of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area economic development plan is a long-term positive for Macau and the gaming industry.’

The expecrt expects continued positive economic policies within the Greater Bay Area, including measures to facilitate transport, investment, and cross-border financial flows. 

‘In the long run, we would not be surprised by continued loosening of visa policies and potentially capital controls as well within the GBA,’ he adds.

Viviana Chan
Viviana Chan
Viviana Chan is an editor, interpreter, and journalist. With over a decade of experience, she writes in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Viviana started her career in Macau-based newspapers, where she became passionate about the region's social, financial, and cultural development. Her writing focuses on the economy, emerging industries, gaming development, political affairs, and cross cultural-exchange in the business and cultural domains. She is avid for news and eager to discover and cover stories that generate public relevance.