Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Hotels

Macau Casino Companies Pledge Over $13 Billion Investment on Non-Gaming Activities

1 year ago

Six casino companies have agreed to invest a total of $15 billion in Macau over ten years, with more than 90 percent of the money pledged to non-gaming activities.

In line with the easing of Covid quarantine rules for inbound arrivals, Macau has renewed the casino licenses of six companies — MGM China, Galaxy Entertainment, Sands China, Melco Resorts, Wynn Macau and SJM Holdings — for the next 10 years.

Genting Group lost the bid even as reports earlier had stated that the Malaysian goup was a strong contender for a new license promising the biggest shakeup in Macau in over two decades.

As the new contracts come into effect on January 1, the casino firms have promised to spend almost $13.5 billion on “exploring overseas customer markets and developing non-gaming projects,” the government said.

The investment on gaming projects would only be around $1.2 billion.  

Macau has been looking to diversify its tourism offerings for some time, looking to position itself as not just a hub for the gaming industry.

In recent years, almost 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product has come from the gaming sector.

However, the casino closures as a result of China’s zero-Covid policy dealt a blow to operators who had been losing millions of dollars a month since March 2020.

Doing away with its institutional quarantine, Macau announced last week that inbound arrivals would have to quarantine at home for five days while restricting outbound travel movements for another three days.

Earlier, travelers had to institutionally quarantine for five days in addition to three days of home quarantine.

Tourism

Hong Kong Finally Removes Restrictions on Inbound Arrivals Who Test Negative

1 year ago

After a whole lot of “will they, won’t they,” Hong Kong has finally announced that visitors to the destination would no longer be subject to home monitoring for three days.

Inbound travelers testing negative upon arrival would be allowed to move freely around the city from Wednesday onwards.

The city state has finally ended its much-criticised “0+3” policy where even passengers testing negative are issued an amber code on the LeaveHomeSafe health app and are not allowed to enter restaurants, gyms and beauty parlours during the first three days.

People would also no longer be required to scan QR codes using the health app while entering venues around the city. 

“Any measures that we introduce to deal with Covid is based on actual figures, data and risk assessment,” Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday.

Cheering the news that comes as relief for all the restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms and offices around Hong Kong, Girish Jhunjhunwala, founder and chief executive of Ovolo Hotels mentioned on social media, “The announcement serves as a definitive step towards the recovery of the local hospitality and tourism industry, and therefore, Hong Kong’s economy entirely.” 

However, arrivals would still need to take a polymerase chain reaction test at the airport and on their third day in the city, and a rapid antigen test for five days.

Last week, while cutting the period for inbound arrivals to take daily rapid antigen tests from seven days to five days, Hong Kong authorities had announced that the outdoor mask mandate and other anti-epidemic measures would continue till December 28.

While the goal is to allow normal cross-border travel as soon as possible, Lee Ka-chiu said that Hong Kong would be clooking at data and the risks involved to decide on its next move.

Tourism

Hong Kong Eases Testing for Inbound Arrivals

1 year ago

A day after China announced some major changes to its controversial zero-Covid policy, Hong Kong on Thursday announced that inbound arrivals would need to undergo daily rapid antigen tests for five days, instead of seven days.

However, international travelers coming into the city would still need to take a polymerase chain reaction test on landing and on the third day and remain in home isolation for three days with limited movement.

Hong Kong has also shortened the isolation period for Covid-19 patients and their close contacts to five days from seven days, provided they test negative on the fourth and fifth day.

This rule would also be applicable for unvaccinated people, who were earlier required to spend 14 days in quarantine.

However, the outdoor mask mandate and other anti-epidemic measures will continue to stay for the next two weeks till December 28.

“Over the last week the number of daily infections has still been increasing and Wednesday’s figure of 14,373 has been a record high,” Hong Kong authorities said in a press briefing.

With Christmas and New year round the corner, health undersecretary, Dr Libby Lee Ha-yun, said there will be immense pressure on healthcare facilities as result of which the government does not look to relax the anti-epidemic measures further for now.

“We are reviewing our strategies based on science, targeted anti-epidemic measures, proper management of risks as well as citizen-focused facilitation,” authorities said during the press briefing.

Tourism

Taiwan to End Quarantine for Inbound Arrivals From October 13

1 year ago

In the latest round of easing travel restrictions, tourists coming in to Taiwan will not be asked to undergo mandatory Covid-19 quarantine from October 13, the ministry of health and welfare announced on Thursday.

From October 13, inbound arrivals to Taiwan would require to self-monitor for seven days instead of undergoing mandatory quarantine.

While the government has scrapped the requirement for polymerase chain reaction tests for inbound travelers, passengers aged two and above would receive four rapid test kits on arrival and are advised to test on the day of arrival or the next day.

Travelers seeking to step out during the seven-day self-monitoring period would be required to take a rapid antigen test.

While opening borders to travelers from all countries, the government has also raised the weekly limit for international visitors from 60,000 to 150,000, and announced the resumption of group tours.

On September 12, Taiwan restored visa-free entry for visitors from 54 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and diplomatic allies. From Thursday onwards, 11 more countries were included in the visa exemption list, which includes Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Following last week’s announcement of the Mainland Affairs Council, entry requirements for select categories of Chinese, Hong Kong, and Macau nationals have also been relaxed from Thursday onwards.

Even as many Asian destinations have scrapped most of the Covid-19 related entry restrictions, Taiwan had resorted to a strong zero-Covid policy for more than two years, where arrivals were still required to undergo a mandatory three-day quarantine at home or at a hotel, followed by four days of self-monitoring.

Taiwan had also banned inbound and outbound tour groups for more than two years.

Tourism

Hong Kong Finally Looks to Scrap Hotel Quarantine Policy

1 year ago

As Hong Kong leaders acknowledge how stringent Covid policies have hammered the destination’s competitiveness, the government might soon be on its way to scrap the controversial hotel quarantine policy for inbound travelers.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee said an announcement was impending and the destination would look to allow more activities in an orderly manner.

“I’m conscious of the need to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness by ensuring that we have a good connectivity,” Lee said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “We will be announcing the measures once we’ve made the decision about what we’re going to do.”

While doing its best to control Covid-19, Lee said, the Hong Kong government would aim to have maximum connection with the international world and reduce inconvenience for inbound arrivals.

The country’s strict Covid rules have led to the cancellation of international events like the Hong Kong Marathon and the dragon boat race that moved to Thailand.

Noting that the convenience of cross-border travel is the core of restoring economic momentum, Paul Chan, the financial secretary of Hong Kong, also admitted that the current restrictions may discourage people from coming to Hong Kong.

The city is currently reporting around 6100 cases a day. 

Hong Kong is one of the last few destinations that still follows a stringent Covid policy for inbound arrivals requiring them to quarantine in a hotel for three days followed by four days of self-monitoring. Inbound arrivals are also required to carry a negative result proof of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken 48 hours before boarding.

Having assumed office since July 1, Lee has been working to ease the city’s isolation, reconnecting Hong Kong with the rest of the world.

Immediately after taking charge, Lee ended a controversial rule that banned individual flights if they brought in passengers infected with the coronavirus. In August, he shortened the Covid-19 hotel quarantine period for all arrivals to three days from seven.

Two weeks ago, the Hong Kong government also lifted rules requiring passenger crew to quarantine in a hotel for three days on return to the city.