In the time it took Hong Kong to deport 1,319 people, Macau kicked out 6,000

Number of deportees from world’s richest gaming hub up 16 per cent year on year, dwarfing equivalent number for city’s much bigger neighbour

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 7:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 1:04pm

Macau deported a massive 6,016 people in the first two months of 2018, marking a year-on-year jump and dwarfing the number of people kicked out of Hong Kong during the same period.

The surge – to an average of 100 deportations per day – came as the world’s richest gaming destination welcomed a huge influx of visitors over the busy Lunar New Year period.

Macau’s Public Security Force said the numbers meant a 16 per cent increase on the same period in 2017 and that 5,698 of the deportees – or 94.6 per cent – were from mainland China. In the whole of 2017, a total of 30,836 mainland Chinese nationals were deported from the city.

Just 1,319 people were deported from the much larger Hong Kong over the same period, according to figures from the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Macau relies more heavily on deportation to deal with relatively minor crimes than its near neighbour does, because of its different legal system, its smaller size and its fewer prisons.

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Macau officials did not give the reasons for the deportations, but it is understood many of them were related to crimes in and around the city’s casinos.

Also among those deported in January and February were 13 people from Hong Kong and 14 from Taiwan.

A Macau-based lawyer with knowledge of border procedures in the city said the comparatively high number of deportations mostly reflected the local legal framework and huge tourism industry there.

The lawyer said: “The numbers, at first glance, look startling. But when you take into account the number of visitors coming in over that period, Macau’s different attitude to deportation and probably greater vigilance on the part of the authorities, the rise in the numbers begins to make sense.

“Some are [visa] overstayers; others are suspected of lesser crimes which under Macau law allows for deportation.”

A total of 5.8 million visitors flocked to Macau over the two months, according to the city’s Statistics and Census Service, up 8.2 per cent year on year. Visitors from mainland China accounted for nearly 73 per cent of tourist arrivals during that period.

The number of visitors to the city over the recent Easter period was down 4.7 per cent against Easter 2017, to just under 403,000, according to data released by police. The Easter period – a Christian celebration – is not a holiday in mainland China.

Investment analysts say there is not necessarily a correlation between headline visitor numbers to Macau and income at the city’s casinos. The market is still thought to be skewed towards higher-end players, who make an outsize contribution to casinos’ gross gaming revenue.

*This story has been updated to reflect a change in the Hong Kong deportation figures which the Post mistakenly listed as 740, when the actual figure is 1,319.