Official figures also show that August was the first month in which the Chinese special administrative region welcomed more than three million tourists since December 2019, before the start of the covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, DSEC stressed that the number of visitors registered in Macau was up almost tenfold compared to August 2022, when the territory was coming out of a covid-19 outbreak that led to a partial lockdown of more than two weeks.
Even so, the August total was far from the all-time record of 3.6 million tourists set in the same month of 2019, before the pandemic, which affected the city until earlier this year.
In the first eight months of 2023, Macau received 17.6 million tourists, four times more than in the same period last year, plus two-thirds of the figure recorded between January and August 2019.
Macau, which like China followed a ‘zero covid’ policy, announced in mid-December the gradual cancellation of most prevention and containment measures, after almost three years of strict restrictions.
The Chinese special administrative region reopened its borders to all foreigners, including tourists, from January 8th. In August, the overwhelming majority of visitors (over 72%) continued to be from mainland China, 2.3 million.
The Macau authorities said in mid-August that the region was the main tourist destination for residents of mainland China, based on official data for the first half of the year.
The report on outbound tourism in the first half of 2023, released by the China Tourism Academy, “shows that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan accounted for 80 percent of the travel destinations chosen by residents of mainland China during the first half of this year, with Macau topping the ranking with a rate of 50 percent,” the authorities said in a statement.
With the upturn in tourism, Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, saw gambling revenues almost quadruple in the first eight months of 2023, reaching 114 billion patacas.
Thanks to the recovery of gambling taxes, the city’s public revenues more than doubled year-on-year between January and August, reaching 48.1 billion patacas, the highest figure since 2019, before the start of the pandemic.
Even so, Macau was only able to keep its public accounts in positive territory thanks to transfers totaling 10.3 billion patacas from the financial reserve.