Macau is having difficulty jumpstarting its economy after the dismal 2020 it was subjected to by COVID-19. There have been good times and bad times, but, overall, there were more bad times than good. According to the latest data from the city’s Financial Services Bureau (FSB), the first six months of the year have been productive, but Macau would have liked to have seen better results.
Macau Fighting to Recover
Macau’s tax revenue was $2.46 billion for the first six months of the year. This was 39.3% of what has been estimated for the entire year, which means the city needs a stronger second half to stay on track. The results are a little intimidating, because they represent a 9.8% drop from the same period last year, during which Macau was fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with everything it had. The good news is that June was substantially better, recording a 23.4% increase over May and a 431% increase over June of last year.
Despite the June improvement in tax revenue, gross gaming revenue (GGR) didn’t increase. It actually decreased by 37.4% compared to May, reaching just $816.84 million. For the first half of the year, GGR was $6.12 billion, a year-over-year increase of 45.4%. However, a disparity in the comparison between GGR and tax revenue exists because they are not recorded simultaneously. There is often a gap between the reporting of GGR and the reporting of the tax revenue.
Good News on the Horizon
Macau might be ready to get the second half of the year off to the strong start it needs. Starting tomorrow, COVID-19 testing rules are going to be eased for those arriving from mainland China’s Guangdong province, a sign that progress is being made in the fight with the coronavirus. Currently, a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours is required, but that will be pushed out to seven days as of tomorrow.
There have been spikes in the number of positive cases in China and other areas, but these have apparently been suppressed. This isn’t to say that Macau can let down its guard completely, though, as new spikes, like the recent one in Nevada, could emerge. As long as there is any chance of Macau having to deal with another major health pandemic, it has to remain hypervigilant to avoid becoming a ghost town once again.
Hong Kong has seen some new COVID-19 issues, as well, and is now being monitored closely by Macau. While the city is easing the restrictions for incoming travel from the mainland, it hasn’t yet determined if it will be able to take similar measures with travel from Hong Kong. Tai Wa Hou, a director at Conde S. Januário public hospital in Macau, told the media yesterday that health and government officials are still assessing the situation and will make changes to travel policies as determined by the COVID-19 threat.