Hong Kong is wooing tourists with 500,000 free airline tickets
Hong Kong will be giving away airline tickets and vouchers to lure tourists back to the international financial hub and catch up with other popular tourist destinations in stiff regional competition.
During the pandemic, the city has largely aligned with mainland China’s zero-Covid strategy, easing its entry requirements months more slowly than rivals like Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
Even after the border with mainland China reopened in January, the tourism recovery has been sluggish.
On Wednesday, Chief Executive John Lee launched a tourism campaign, Hello Hong Kong, and said the city will offer 500,000 free airline tickets to welcome tourists from around the world.
“Hong Kong is now seamlessly connected to mainland China and the entire international world, and there will be no isolation, no quarantine,” he said at a ceremony.
“This is the perfect time for tourists, business travelers and investors from far and wide to come and say ‘Hello Hong Kong’.”
Under the campaign, most of the HK$2 billion (£210 million) flight tickets will come from three Hong Kong-based airlines through various promotional activities including gambling, buy one get one free and promotions and games.
The project will begin in March and take about six months, said Fred Lam, the airport authority’s chief executive officer.
“We hope that those who secure the plane tickets will be able to bring two or three more relatives and friends to the city. Although we are currently giving away 500,000 airline tickets, we believe this can help bring over 1.5 million visitors to Hong Kong,” said Mr. Lam.
The airlines will distribute the tickets in phases, with Southeast Asian markets benefiting first, he said.
Another 80,000 plane tickets will be given away to Hong Kong residents in the summer, Mr Lam said.
Those living in the Greater Bay Area also benefit from the policy, which offers more than 700,000 tickets in total.
The Greater Bay Area is an initiative by the Chinese government to connect Hong Kong with neighboring mainland cities, including the technology and financial hub of Shenzhen and the manufacturing hubs of Dongguan and Foshan.
Visitors can also enjoy special offers and coupons, among other incentives in the city, said Mr. Lee.
Hong Kong had 56 million visitors in 2019 – more than seven times its population – before the pandemic began.
But its strict Covid restrictions have kept visitors away for the past three years, wreaking havoc on the tourism sector and its economy.
According to the government’s preliminary data, the city’s GDP fell by 3.5% last year compared to 2021.
In recent months, mandatory hotel quarantine regulations and PCR tests for inbound travelers have been dropped permanently, leading to a slight increase in arrival numbers.
Still, attendance in 2022 was just 1% of 2019 levels.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/hong-kong-woos-tourists-with-500000-free-air-tickets-42324333.html Hong Kong is wooing tourists with 500,000 free airline tickets