Hong Kong hopes to bring 1.5 million visitors to the city by giving away more than 500,000 flight tickets to oversea travelers in the coming months, first to Asian markets.
The chief executive of Hong Kong John Lee announced on February 2 the launch of the promotional campaign “Hello Hong Kong” to bring visitors back.
To do so, Hong Kong will offer 500,000 free airline tickets to overseas travelers in the coming months, along with other vouchers to use in the city.
The “Hello Hong Kong” campaign was launched with dancers and flashing neon lights in the city’s main convention center and the slogan was displayed in several languages including Russian and Spanish.
The free round-trip tickets to/from Hong Kong will be provided to inbound visitors starting March 1 for at least six months. Flights will be on three home-based airline companies: Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
A first phase with free tickets will open in March for inbound travels from Southeast Asia, then in April for mainland China and in May for Northeast Asia and other markets.
Tickets will be handed out through various promotional activities, including lucky draws, “buy one, get one free” promotions, and games, according to the Hong Kong International Airport Authority. Most tickets will be distributed through the airlines’ direct channels or their agents but 35 percent will be reserved for tourism-related sectors.
In total, 700,000 tickets will be provided for free. An additional 80,000 tickets will be given away to residents of Hong Kong during the summer of 2023. Some tickets will be given away in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which also includes the technology and financial hub of Shenzhen and the manufacturing powerhouses of Dongguan and Foshan from mainland China.
The program is expected to cost at least 2 billion Hong Kong dollars (255 million U.S. dollars) with the hope to bring over 1.5 million visitors to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong also offers over a million vouchers to visitors. They can get a complimentary welcome drink in some bars, restaurants, and hotels along with a cash voucher to spend in selected restaurants, shops or attractions in Hong Kong worth 100 Hong Kong dollars (13 U.S. dollars), according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board website.
In the last three years, the Chinese special administrative region was largely sealed behind closed borders and applied strict regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic following China’s zero-COVID policy. An internal draft report from the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong last year anticipated a large exodus of European expatriates and foreign companies because of the strict zero-COVID policy.
“Hong Kong is now connected to mainland China and the whole international world, and there will be no isolation, no quarantine and no restrictions on experiencing…enjoying the hustle and bustle of Asia’s world city,” Mr Lee said. “We have to let outsiders know that Hong Kong has a unique status, especially when the ‘one country, two systems’ principles will be implemented in Hong Kong for a long time,” he added, wanting to reassure Hong Kong is still an autonomous region from mainland China.
Hong Kong, considered a more fun financial hub than Singapore, dropped most of its remaining COVID-19 rules in December, except for the mask mandate and daily antigen testing for students. There is still a quota system between mainland China and Hong Kong with a COVID-19 test required at the border. Three border checkpoints are still closed.