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500,000 free airline tickets are intended to bring tourists back in Hong Kong

Three years of severe corona restrictions in Hong Kong have left their mark on foreign tourism. But the Hong Kong government is taking new steps to attract foreign tourists to the metropolis on the South China Sea.

According to John Lee, who leads the government in the metropolis, Hong Kong has decided to give away 500,000 free airline tickets to boost tourism now that the COVID-19 measures have been slightly eased.

The generous distribution of airline tickets to foreigners is part of a larger campaign named “Hello Hong Kong”. The campaign is worth no less than €1.8 billion.

“Hong Kong is now connected to the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, and there is no isolation, no quarantine and no restrictions”, says John Lee in a presentation on Thursday, referring to the fact that China has loosened its restrictions.

In the year before the coronavirus breakout, Hong Kong welcomed 56 million tourists. That number fell drastically as a result of the pandemic. Last year, the number was 604,564 tourists, according to the South China Morning Post.

The drop in the number of tourists has had consequences for both the tourism industry and the economy. The Hong Kong government’s drastic measures of giving away 500,000 airline tickets express the urgent need for action.

The many tickets have been purchased to provide support to the airlines Cathay Pacific, HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines during the pandemic. The airline tickets represent a total value of more than 250 million euros.

Giveaway of a million vouchers

The three airlines will be responsible for the distribution of half a million airline tickets, which will start on 1 March and will last for six months.

Initially, the airline tickets will be distributed to countries in South-East Asia, then mainland China will take its turn and finally they will be distributed to tourists in North-East Asia.

In addition, 80,000 of the tickets will be given to residents of Hong Kong in the summer.

Another 80,000 will be distributed in the Greater Bay Area, which is the term for a large and densely populated area that includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Macao.

One million vouchers will also be distributed, each with a value of 11.60 euros, in an attempt to further stimulate tourism. The vouchers can be used to get discounts on accommodation, transport, attractions and food and drink.

During 2023 more than 250 events and festivals will be held, which also act as a draw for Hong Kong tourists. These events and festivals include the Hong Kong Marathon, the Clockenflap music festival, Art Basel and Hong Kong Rugby Servens.

Has been subject to strict restrictions

Hong Kong has been subject to strict restrictions since the corona pandemic broke out three years ago. For long periodes, Hong Kong technically has been cut off from the rest of the world.

Most of the city’s restrictions were lifted in December. In January Hong Kong opened for entry from abroad.

However, it will not be without restrictions, if you are one of those flying to Hong Kong. It is still a requirement that people wear masks in public spaces, unless a person is engaged in any physical activity, including exercise like jogging.

In addition, students in the metropolis must be tested daily with quick tests.

Many in Hong Kong have warned along the way that the strict restrictions risked damaging the city’s competitiveness and its position as an international financial centre.

Hong Kong was a British Crown Colony until 1997, when the city was handed over to China. Since then, Hong Kong has been a partially independent government.

Read also about WHO urges long-haul passengers to wear masks yet again.

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