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Restrictions Tougher for Macao Trips
Update: 9/2/2008 7:51:00 AM Source: macao hotels


Travel agencies in Guangdong are worrying about a possible slowdown in outbound service to Macao due to the new, stricter travel permits to the special administrative region (SAR).

As of yesterday, mainland tourists with permits to Hong Kong and Macao were told to register separately for trips to the two regions, according to the Macao SAR government.

It means that Guangdong residents have to apply twice to the local exit and entry authorities to enter both Hong Kong and Macao.

In the past, they could visit Macao via Hong Kong after obtaining a permit to just Hong Kong.

"Permit holders, especially those who do regular businesses in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, will be greatly affected by the stricter regulations," said a manager, surnamed Huang, with the China Travel Service (Guangdong) Co.

The service of travel permits to Hong Kong and Macao for individuals, which started in early 2003, has helped boost economic and social ties between Guangdong and the two special administrative regions, the manager said.

"But local travel-permit holders have to wait longer for registration to visit Hong Kong and Macao at a time. This will, by all means, affect the already-developed, relatively free-flow system between the three areas," Huang said.

Moreover, the permitted staying period was reduced last month from two weeks to just seven days for travel-permit holders in their first visits to Macao.

"Since August, the number of travelers from Guangdong to Macao has been cut by half due to the stricter permit regulations," Huang told China Daily yesterday.

In addition, Huang urged local residents to apply for the travel permits to Macao as early as possible, as they have been allowed just one travel service within two months since May.

Travel agencies in the Macao SAR government also estimated that the number of mainland visitors will decline by about 10 percent in the near term due to the newly implemented permit regulations.

In contrast, the number dramatically increased in the first half of this year, according to a source with the Macao SAR government.

The source added that stricter permits, however, might help boost retail- business development in Macao, as travelers from the mainland stay longer during their permitted visits to the region, "because they know it is becoming more inconvenient to travel to Macao".

Editor: canton fair

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