According to estimates by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the number of mainland visitors to Macau reached 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, as the director of MGTO, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, mentioned that tourist numbers last Saturday, March 18th, reached 96,000, a new record since the pandemic.

Generally speaking, the rebound of Hong Kong visitors is stronger, the official noted, with figures topping 80 percent of pre-pandemic figures and on normal days averaging over 70 percent. She pointed out that Hong Kong visitors have no limit on visas, and that transportation between Macau and Hong Kong has been fully reopened and normalized.

Speaking to local media, the MGTO director also revealed a new plan to roll out a ‘buy one, get one free’ transport offer for foreign tourists making their way into Macau via Hong Kong.

The promotional offer will be available between the middle of April and the end of June – an extension of a similar deal exclusively targeting Hong Kong residents who spend more than one night in Macau.

Launched in January, the deal, which covers both ferry and shuttle services, was supposed to end in March, but was extended until June by the Macau Government. The expansion of its coverage to overseas visitors comes as the authorities are going all-out to maintain the momentum of rising tourist figures after easing all COVID restrictions.

The MGTO director mentioned also that the number of tour groups, with tour groups from mainland China to Macau restarting on February 6th, has recently totaled 2,048 groups with over 60,000 visitors. Nearly one-quarter (542) of the tour groups came from Guangdong Province, with 17,000 tourists. Some 41,000 additional visitors from 1,439 tour groups applied for subsidies for accommodation.

Late last year, the authorities announced that they would subsidize group tours arranged by local travel agencies for a maximum of MOP300 (USD37.5) per head – and up to MOP400 per head if they come from outside the Guangdong province.

Macau has seen a surge in arrivals since the lifting of epidemic prevention restrictions on January 8th. The Macau government also dropped its mandatory mask mandate last month.

The total number of visitors to Macau in 2019 was 39.4 million, of which almost 29 million were from mainland China. Hong Kong was the second largest source market with 7.4 million arrivals.

Macau is now aiming to breach this mark, which it has set as its visitor arrival goal, despite numerous headwinds including a lack of manpower in the hospitality and gaming sectors.