In a tight regional battle to catch up with other well-liked holiday destinations, Hong Kong will give away air tickets and vouchers to entice travelers back to the global financial capital.
The city primarily sided with mainland China’s “zero-COVID” stance throughout the epidemic and loosened entry restrictions months later than competitors like Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan.
The tourism industry’s revival remained gradual even after it reopened its border with mainland China in January.
According to Chief Executive John Lee, who launched the “Hello Hong Kong” tourism campaign on Thursday, the city would give out 500,000 free plane tickets to welcome visitors from all over the world in what he dubbed “perhaps the greatest welcome ever.”
There will be no isolation or quarantine because Hong Kong is now fluidly connected to the Chinese mainland and the rest of the globe, he declared at a ceremony.
“This is the ideal time for tourists, businesspeople, and investors to visit and say hello to Hong Kong from near and far.”
Through different promotional activities, such as lucky draws, “buy one, get one free” discounts, and games, three Hong Kong-based airlines would provide the majority of the plane tickets, valued at 2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($255 million) under the campaign.
The Airport Authority’s CEO, Fred Lam, announced that the project would start in March and last for around six months.
“We hope those who book the flights can bring two or three additional family members and acquaintances.”
According to him, the airlines will distribute the tickets in stages, with the first round expected to favor the Southeast Asian markets.
Lam said an additional 80,000 flight tickets would be distributed to Hong Kong citizens in the summer.
The rule that provides a total of over 700,000 tickets will also benefit residents of the Greater Bay Area.
The Greater Bay Area is a project of the Chinese government to connect Hong Kong to nearby mainland cities, such as Shenzhen’s financial and technology center and the manufacturing behemoths of Dongguan and Foshan.
Along with other incentives, the city also offers special deals and vouchers to visitors, according to Lee.
Before the epidemic hit, Hong Kong welcomed 56 million tourists in 2019, more than seven times its resident population.
But over the past three years, the country’s strict COVID-19 regulations have kept tourists away, severely harming the tourism industry and the economy.
The city’s GDP decreased by 3.5% from 2021 to 2018, according to preliminary figures from the government.
It has just stopped requiring hotel quarantines and PCR tests for incoming travelers, which has led to a modest increase in arrival numbers.
Even yet, the number of visitors in 2022 was just 1% higher than in 2019.