Hong Kong is giving away 500,000 airline tickets in an effort to entice tourists to return to the region. In recent months, the city has eased COVID travel restrictions, including mandatory isolation upon arrival.
It is now hoping to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic on its tourism industry. Hong Kong’s plan also includes giving away 500,000 airline tickets worth more than €250 million.
Dane Cheng, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, told the BBC in October that the free tickets were initially purchased to assist airlines during the pandemic.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee launched the $2 billion (€1.8 billion) ‘Hello Hong Kong’ campaign on Wednesday (1 February), with the flight ticket giveaway beginning on March 1.
Before the pandemic, Hong Kong received 56 million visitors in 2019 – more than seven times its population. However, its strict COVID restrictions have kept visitors away for the past three years, wreaking havoc on the tourism sector and the economy. According to preliminary government data, the city’s GDP fell 3.5% last year compared to 2021.
How will the free ticket scheme in Hong Kong work?
The giveaway will begin on March 1 and will last about six months, with tickets distributed in stages.
According to Fred Lam Tin-fuk, CEO of the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the free tickets will be distributed by Hong Kong-based airlines Cathay Pacific, HK Express, and Hong Kong Airlines.
According to Time Out Hong Kong, tickets will be distributed gradually on the airlines’ overseas platforms, beginning with Southeast Asian countries and progressing to mainland China and Northeastern Asia.
In the summer, another 80,000 free air tickets will be distributed to Hong Kong residents, with another 80,000 distributed to those living in the Greater Bay Area.
Visitors can also take advantage of special offers, vouchers, and other incentives in the city.
One million vouchers worth more than HKD100 (€11.60) each will provide discounts on food, drinks, transportation, hotels, retail, and attractions. According to Time Out Hong Kong, they will be distributed at tourist inquiry counters located at four border checkpoints beginning at 5 p.m. on February 2.
Throughout 2023, the city will also host over 250 events and festivals, including the Hong Kong Marathon, Clockenflap music festival, Art Basel, and Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
What are the Hong Kong entry requirements?
Throughout the pandemic, Hong Kong had some of the strictest travel regulations.
The city has largely aligned itself with mainland China’s ‘zero-COVID’ strategy and has relaxed entry rules months later than competitors such as Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan.
The mandatory quarantine upon arrival was abolished in September. Even after Hong Kong reopened its border with mainland China in January, tourism recovery was slow.
The rules have now been relaxed even further. Visitors who test negative for COVID no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival.
Inbound tourists are subjected to rapid antigen testing upon arrival and again on day five of their visit. If you test positive, you must self-isolate in your hotel or lodging for five days.
Proof of vaccination is also required for those over the age of 12, unless there are medical reasons why you cannot be vaccinated.
Hong Kong residents who are not fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter the city. Non-residents who are not fully vaccinated and have visited places other than mainland China, Macao, or Taiwan within the last seven days will be denied entry into Hong Kong.
A negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure is required for travel between Hong Kong and mainland China. You must make a quota booking on the HKSARG’s online booking system if you are traveling through land border control points. Air travel does not necessitate this.
Virgin Atlantic stops flights to Hong Kong after 30 years
Due to the closure of Russian airspace following Ukraine’s invasion, some airlines will not resume service to the city.
Virgin Atlantic announced in the fall that it would close its Hong Kong office after 30 years. Flights to the city were halted when the pandemic struck, but were scheduled to resume in the summer of 2023.
The airline decided to withdraw from the Asian travel hub entirely. Several factors influenced the decision, including the closure of Russian airspace, which added at least an hour to travel times.
Customers who booked flights to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic beginning in March 2023 have been offered a refund, a voucher, or the option to rebook on another route with the airline.
Source : euronews