Macau urging Mainland China to restore IVS e-visa to support economic recovery
Eager to return to pre-pandemic economic activity, Macau’s government is actively working with Mainland China officials to fully restore the e-visa process for the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS). Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macau Government Tourism Office, said that faster processing times for IVS visas are essential for ensuring the Chinese special administrative region’s (SAR) economic recovery.
Electronic IVS applications were suspended by Mainland Chinese authorities in January last year, following the onset of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. China took the decision in order to prevent its citizens from traveling to Macau and Hong Kong amid growing health concerns due to the pandemic.
Macau also tightened its borders last year to protect its residents from the threat of COVID-19, which allegedly originated in Mainland China and gradually spread to other parts of the world, claiming a large number of lives. Despite being neighbor to China, Macau has registered only 48 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak last year. Fortunately, the enclave suffered no COVID-related death.
However, as the pandemic has faded away, Macau authorities wants Chinese administrators to restore the e-visa process for IVS. Currently, Mainland China residents seeking to travel to the SAR have to apply in-person. Processing times take up to two weeks.
It may be noted here that Mainland China accounts for the vast majority of visitors who travel to the former Portuguese colony. Prior to the onset of the deadly infection last year, Mainland China accounted for nearly 71 per cent of total number of visitors.
Vitaly Umansky and Tianjiao Yu, gaming analysts with Sanford C. Bernstein, have also predicted that resumption of e-visa process for IVS will lead to a considerable jump in number of visitors to Macau.
Making the prediction, the gaming analysts said, “The key jump in visitors will come when visa processing switches back to digital and same day, which may take some time. We are not likely to see material alleviation of bottlenecks in the near term.”
Expressing hope that IVS e-visa will be resumed and number of visitors will recover soon, Maria added that the enclave will have to do more to attract visitors to stay longer and spend more in Macau. She added that more attractions would be introduced to attract more visitors to the SAR.