Record hike for tourist prices

But 2012 inflation for tourist items likely lower than overall inflation – for first time in seven years

Visitors paid more than ever before for goods and services in Macau last quarter – mostly due to a jump in hotel room rates.
According to data released by the Statistics and Census Service yesterday, the tourist price index rose by 11 percent quarter-to-quarter.
It is the highest increase since the statistics bureau began publishing the tourist price index in 2000 and took the index to a historic record of 133.8 points.
The biggest hike was in the prices of handbags, which soared by almost a third.
But accommodation – which is the biggest single expense made by most visitors – was the main reason for the index growth, with hotel and guesthouse rates rising overall by 31.9 percent.
Room rates increased notably during the National Day holidays, the Macau Grand Prix, Christmas break and New Year’s Eve, the statistics bureau wrote.
According to data from the Macau Hotel Association, room rates rose by 12.6 percent between September and October to reach 1,558 patacas (US$195) before falling to 1,400 patacas in November.
The association’s data for December have not yet been published. But the government’s price index of hotel rooms decreased by two percent year-on-year in the last quarter, the data from the statistics bureau show.
Nonetheless, the overall tourist price index increased by 4.5 percent year-on-year reportedly because the new arrival of winter clothing pushed the prices of clothing and footwear up by 16.5 percent.
Other factors were rising charges for restaurant services, which jumped by 6.1 percent, and higher fees for cross-border transport (up by 7.2 percent) and entertainment (up by 9.9 percent).
The average tourist price index for the whole of 2012 hit 124.3 points, up by 6.05 percent from the previous year – and a huge slowdown from the 15.46 percent growth posted in 2011.
In fact, tourist price rises last year could be lower than those experienced by Macau consumers. The first time that’s happened since 2005.
Consumer price index inflation was 6.13 percent for the first 11 months of 2012. The December index won’t be published until next week.
Macau-based economist Albano Martins predicted in November that the 2012 inflation would be “anywhere between 5.89 percent and 6.1 percent … but it will be likelier closer to the lower end”.