Hong Kong really wants tourists to come back now that their COVID-19 pandemic lockdown is lifted and is giving away 500,000 free flights to those who would like to visit.
via USA Today:
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 Feb. 2, 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.”
The campaign is said to be “unprecedented,” according to a press release by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and the city will host over 250 events and festivals over this year to entice travelers and showcase its “dynamic and diverse appeal of the city.” Travelers will also get consumption vouchers to help them experience the Asian city.
Read below to learn more about the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign.
The city is making the big statement to lure back its tourists after its strict COVID-19 restrictions kept most visitors away, and its tourism industry – an important part of its economy – took a big hit.
In the past few months, the city finally dropped its mandatory hotel quarantine rule and PCR tests for incoming travelers, resulting in a slight increase in arrival figures. Still, its 2022 visitor numbers were just 1% of the 2019 level.
“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,” Fred Lam, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong, said.
For a chance to win in the campaign, people can either register on the Hong Kong airport website and check back for when they are eligible to participate or go directly to the airlines’ websites when eligible. The airlines – Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Express and Hong Kong Airlines – will distribute the tickets in phases based on the location of residence.
Under the campaign, most of the plane tickets – worth 2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($255 million) – will be determined through various promotional activities, including lucky draws, “buy one, get one free” promotions and games, according to Lam.
According to the website, all tickets will be round-trip economy class and “related surcharges, fees and taxes” will still be paid by the winner.
Maybe we’ve seen too many horror films that start out by promising someone a ‘free vacation’ or ‘all-expenses paid trip’ to some remote island only for there to be some f*ckery afoot — but this seems too good to be true.