China to restrict individual visas to Macau

28 May 2007

Macau, China, 28 May – the authorities of the Chinese province of Guangdong plan to restrict the issuing of individual visas for visiting Macau and Hong Kong, the Macau Chinese press reported Friday.

The Guangdong authorities plan to limit the number of individual visitor visas by increasing the length of time it takes to issue them, reducing the number of monthly visits from two to one and cancelling the issue of business visas, which were given to politicians and members of government companies.

The measure also aims to prevent Chinese visitors from working in Macau illegally.

The individual visa policy was implemented in mid 2003 by the Beijing authorities and aimed to lessen the negative economic effect the SARS virus on Hong Kong and Macau.

Up until the end of April, of the around 8.6 million visitors to Macau, 4.7 million were from China and of these, 2.4 million had been issued with individual visas, which also included diplomatic and business visas, which have now been cancelled.

From now on, individual visas will take 15 working days to be issued and their holders will only be able to visit Macau or Hong Kong for seven days.

The head of the Macau government, Edmund Ho, said meanwhile, Saturday in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, that the measure would not affect Macau’s tourist industry.

English-language newspaper, Macau Post Daily reported Monday that Ho considered that the decision by the Guangdong authorities would improve the quality of Macau’s tourism rather than focusing on quantity.

The secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Chui Sai On, responsible for Macau’s tourist sector said Saturday that the local authorities remained confident that around 25 million tourists would visit Macau in 2007, of which 50 percent would be from mainland China. (macauhub)