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Crackdown on visas for locals could make crossing into Macau easier for laowai

Posted: 06/27/2012 2:51 pm

Gongbei Border Control

You might be able to speed through Gongbei Port and into Macau soon, as Guangdong appears to be tightening visa requirements for Chinese tourists.

A report from the Chinese-language Macau Daily News cited unnamed sources saying local officials in neighbouring Guangdong could limit the number of Macau visas issued for locals, coupled with a limit on overseas spending on credit cards. Despite its reunification with China in 1999, Macau is still considered “overseas”.

Major Hong Kong-listed Casino operators Sands China, Galaxy, MGM China and Wynn Macau saw shares tank on the news on Tuesday, but analysts are split on the speculation.

From Bloomberg:

“Recent weakness in Macau gaming revenue and visitation growth could be partially explained by the visa restrictions and reduction in China UnionPay limits highlighted by the Macau Daily,” Cameron McKnight, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in a June 25 research note.

“The report on visa tightening is a bit speculative,” said Grant Govertsen, a Macau-based analyst at Union Gaming Group. “We haven’t seen anything so far to convince us this is happening.”

While Reuters reports:

“There has been no restriction of visas,” said Gabriel Chan, analyst at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong

Chan said new measures recently put in place should actually should encourage the flow of visitors by making it easier for residents to apply for a visa and lengthening the opening hours of the border gate that connects Macau to the mainland.

The numbers Macau are dealing with are huge, and could affect the gambling-heavy SAR.
From Bloomberg:

Macau casino gambling revenue rose 7.3 percent in May, the slowest pace since July 2009.

Reuters said:

About 25 million visitors from Greater China flocked to the specially administered region in 2011 – the only place in China where nationals can legally gamble at casinos – making up about 90 percent of total visitors.

Long queues at the Gongbei border between Zhuhai and Macau are an all too often occurrence as foreigners bemoan the sheer volume of people crowding into the border facility.  Unlike at Lo Wu/Luohu Port connecting Shenzhen with Hong Kong, Gongbei Port often doesn’t differentiate between foreigners and locals, resulting in long queues all around.

The last time local entry into Macau was tightened was back in 2008.



Surf on the roof of the new Galaxy Macau

Posted: 05/17/2011 5:37 pm

If you’re looking to light it up — and I mean really Light. It. Up. — then Galaxy Macau might be the place to go.

Many of us have made the trek down to Macau for some drinks and blackjack (Macau casinos are far, far different from their Las Vegas counterparts), which is now much easier to do with the high speed rail linking Guangzhou and Zhuhai. But after a night or two, you figure you’ve seen everything, right? I mean, it’s all more of the same: slot machines, baccarat, expensive meals, wealthy mainland Chinese officials smoking and blowing laundered yuan. Well, the Galaxy Macau just might have trumped all of the other glistening casinos and mega-hotels.

The Galaxy had its official opening last Sunday, and as CNNGo points out, it has a number of selling points that sets it apart from the other run-of-the-mill entertainment complexes (if you consider Wynn, MGM and City of Dreams “run-of-the-mill”). For starters, installing a swimming pool is just, so…. pedestrian. So Galaxy installed a 4,000 square metre wave pool, complete with sand, on its roof.

Furthermore, the hotel went out of its way to find the tallest women in Asia (which isn’t an easy task) to work at the hotel. The height requirement for the women was 172 centimetres, well above the typical height of females in these parts. In addition, some rooms have their own spa pools so you can relax in total privacy.

CNNGo has a great list of the other features at the hotel, of which there are many. Macau, in its pursuit of glitz, has just kicked it up a notch.

The relax pool holds up to 3 people.


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