Visitor arrivals to Macau suffered a shock 4.7% decline in January according to latest information from the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), despite a 36.4% increase in gross gaming revenue.
Arrivals dropped to 2,741,465 in January, due largely to the timing of Chinese New Year which fell entirely in February this year. However, Morgan Stanley’s Praveen Choudhary and Jeremy An have attributed the disparity between visitation and GGR to “higher overnight visitors, more air passengers and many more visitors from lower-tier cities.”
While visitation from mainland China fell 3.5%, mass market gaming revenue grew 29% with Morgan Stanley adding that, “Visitors from lower-tier cities (excluding Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong) grew by 17.6% year-on-year.”
The number of overnight visitors grew 24% year-on-year and 8.8% sequentially in January, while same-day visits fell 12% year-on-year and 16.8% sequentially.
Notably, the number of visitors arriving by air increased 22% to 264,551, while those coming by land fell 12.3% to 1,577,333.
Despite some analysts predicting a potential GGR decline in February – which would be Macau’s first in 20 months – Morgan Stanley said it expects year-on-year growth of around 10%.
“We maintain our bullish view on Macau gaming and believe that the infrastructure improvement, new supply and growing affluence of visitors from lowered-tier cities will bring 2018 full-year GGR growth of 16%,” it added.