Hong Kong gives away 500,000 air tickets to revive tourism

Hong Kong gives away 500,000 air tickets to revive tourism

It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half years since we first learned about COVID-19, and for many, that meant canceling or rescheduling trips to their favorite destinations like Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. As Hong Kong finally eases travel restrictions, however, there may be light at the end of the tunnel: The city is giving away half a million air tickets to lure tourists back to its once bustling streets.

Hong Kong tries to reconnect with the world with free air tickets

The Airport Authority Hong Kong raised HK$2 billion in 2020, buying about half a million tickets from airlines including Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express and Cathay Dragon.

The gifting of the tickets marks yet another attempt by Hong Kong to reconnect with the rest of the world. Recently, Hong Kong finally lifted its mandatory hotel quarantine and shortened the health monitoring period from four to three days, making the return of international tourists more likely. The ticket giveaway is part of a global campaign next year when the city lifts all pandemic restrictions on arrivals.

Cheng Ting-yat, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said his organization will launch the massive advertising campaign in early 2023 to lure tourists back, while the Airport Authority will be responsible for distributing tickets.

“Not all free tickets are for inbound tourists. Some of them will be given to outbound travelers, while others will be distributed through travel agencies,” he added.

As part of the “Ni Hao Hong Kong” global tourism campaign, Cathay Pacific also announced that it will give away 80,000 free round-trip tickets to Southeast Asia, of which 12,500 will be dedicated to Singapore residents.

Hong Kong may further relax remaining travel rules

Chief Executive Lee Kar-chao may announce plans for a return to normal in his October policy address as the government lifts mandatory hotel quarantine for incoming travelers, according to reports Sing Tao Daily. The free air tickets are one of the measures aimed at boosting tourism in the city. The city’s strict Covid-19 rules have kept it isolated for much of the pandemic, damaging its reputation as a global financial hub.

According to reports, Hong Kong may lift the remaining restrictions on incoming travelers three days after arrival, namely restricting their movement in public places. With the recent lifting of hotel quarantines, expectations are growing that Hong Kong will also try to lift remaining restrictions.

The government hopes tourists will return to the city within a quarter or two once the Hong Kong government eases further travel restrictions, including a three-day ban on bars and restaurants in the town.

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