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Macau gets one step closer to reopening

One sure bellwether for the global recovery from the pandemic is the health and well being of Macau. The special administrative region, and its wealth of world-class casinos is economic engine that drives huge revenue for Chinese businesses, but has been shut off to foreigners since the pandemic began.

This week, The Government Information Bureau announced that the island would slowly begin welcoming foreigners back to it shores. There are, however, a few conditions. For starters, the official release makes it clear that only those with official business in Macau will be welcome back. “The first group eligible for consideration for entry are foreigners wishing to visit Macao for matters serving Macao’s public interest, particularly ones relating to disease prevention and control, and emergency rescue; as well as the ensuring of the proper operation of public services in the community; and of meeting the basic day-to-day needs of the Macao public.”

One group that is noticeably absent from that list are categories like, “international gambler and baccarat enthusiast.” Clearly, Macau’s casinos aren’t quite there yet when it comes to international visitors. But with a gambling sector seven times that of Las Vegas, tourism accounts for a huge chunk of financial life on the island and plans to reopen them are in the works.

The major exception to Macau travel is a category of foreigner that’s already quarantined on Mainland China. International travelers in this category are still welcome.

With every small step, life in the gambling capitol of Asia is slowly drifting back towards “normal”.