Like many other cities, Macau has been struggling to cater to the
surge of tourists from China following the lifting of Covid border curbs
and restrictions. However, a labour shortage has forced integrated
resorts to close off thousands of hotel rooms and reduce guest services
such as housekeeping.
According to Bloomberg, some five-star hotels in Macau's casinos have
fewer than half of their rooms available for booking, and one operator
has about one-fifth of its rooms out of commission.
As a result, hotel prices are quickly picking up, with Macau's
average hotel room price in February at 1,206 patacas (US$149), already
80% of pre-Covid levels, while visitation was only 45% of what it was in
2019, according to data from the Macau Government Tourism Office.
Front-facing staff like waiters, cleaners, and receptionists at
hotels and restaurants are urgently needed. Before Covid, these jobs
were largely filled by non-local workers, many from China and Southeast
Many of those workers were either let go or left their posts when
Macau shut its borders alongside Hong Kong and suffered a tourist
drought amid China's lockdowns and travel curbs. More than 44,000
non-local employees have left Macau since early 2020, leaving a gaping
hole in the workforce even as China's ending of its Covid Zero policy
fuels a travel boom not seen since 2019.
Part of the holdup is the initial need for government-approved quotas
for non-local workers, which can lag as authorities ensure there aren't
any suitable local candidates. Even after securing those quotas, hiring
Recruitment agents have found that many former employees from China
have returned there and are now working in cities over the border, while
workers from Southeast Asia that used to make up a sizeable chunk of
the hotel and casino workforce have headed to countries like Singapore
and Vietnam where gaming and tourism are booming.