Sun | May 19, 2024

Hong Kong woos tourists with free air tickets and vouchers

Published:Thursday | February 2, 2023 | 10:00 AM
A Cathay Pacific airplane at the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong on November 25, 2022. Hong Kong will give away air tickets and vouchers to woo tourists back to the international financial hub, racing to catch up with other popular travel destinations in a fierce regional competition. (AP Photo/Vernon Yuen, File)

Hong Kong (AP) — Hong Kong will give away air tickets and vouchers to woo tourists back to the international financial hub, racing to catch up with other popular travel destinations in a fierce regional competition.

During the pandemic, the city largely aligned itself with mainland China's “zero-COVID” strategy and has relaxed its entry rules months slower than rivals such as Singapore, Japan and Taiwan. Even after it reopened its border with mainland China in January, tourism recovery was sluggish.

On Thursday, Chief Executive John Lee launched a tourism campaign “Hello Hong Kong,” saying the city will offer 500,000 free air tickets to welcome tourists from around the world in what he called “probably the world's biggest welcome ever”.

“Hong Kong is now seamlessly connected to the mainland of China and the whole international world and there will be no isolation, no quarantine,” he said at a ceremony.

“This is the perfect timing for tourists, business travellers, and investors from near and far to come and say, 'Hello, Hong Kong.'”

Under the campaign, most of the plane tickets — worth two billion Hong Kong dollars — will come from three Hong Kong-based airlines through various promotional activities, including lucky draws, “buy one, get one free” promotions and games.

The project will begin in March and last about six months, said Fred Lam, CEO of the Airport Authority.

“We hope those who secure the air tickets can bring two or three more relatives and friends to the city. Although we are just giving away 500,000 air tickets, we believe this can help bring Hong Kong over 1.5 million visitors,” Lam said.

The airlines will distribute the tickets in phases, with the Southeast Asian markets set to benefit in the first stage, he said.

An additional 80,000 air tickets will be given away to Hong Kong residents in the summer, Lam said.

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