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China reinstates tourist visas to Macau from September 23 in boon for casinos

FILE PHOTO: People wearing masks walk in front of Casino Lisboa before its temporary closing following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Macau, China, February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Macau, the world’s biggest casino hub, is set to welcome an influx of gamblers after China on Tuesday announced that tourist visas, through which the majority of visitors enter the Chinese territory, would be reinstated for all provinces from Sept. 23.

Casino executives and investors have been eagerly awaiting the announcement as a catalyst to reviving gaming revenue, which has slumped since February due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

China’s National Immigration Administration said, provided the domestic coronavirus situation continued to improve, residents would be able to apply for individual and group travel visas to enter the special administrative region located on the country’s southern coast.

Visitors from greater China make up over 90% of tourists to the former Portuguese colony of Macau.

Shares of Hong Kong listed casino stocks soared on Tuesday following the announcement.

Residents from the neighbouring coastal province of Guangdong on the mainland will be able to apply from Aug. 26, the National Immigration Administration said. Residents from Zhuhai city across the border from Macau are permitted from Aug. 12.

The announcement comes nearly a month after China loosened coronavirus-related border restrictions between Macau and Guangdong.

Reporting by Twinnie Siu; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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