Hong Kong flights: 500,000 free airline tickets up for grabs from March in bid to boost tourism
Hong Kong is giving away 500,000 air tickets to bring tourists back to the region.
City canceled COVID trips restrictions in recent months, including mandatory isolation upon arrival.
He now hopes to recover from the huge impact of the pandemic on his travel industry. And part Hong Kongthe plan includes giving away 500,000 tickets worth more than 250 million euros.
Back in October, Hong Kong Tourism Board chief executive Dane Cheng told the BBC that the free tickets were originally bought to support airlines during the pandemic.
On Wednesday (February 1), Hong Kong CEO John Lee launched a $2 billion (€1.8 billion) “Hello Hong Kong” campaign, with air ticket giveaways starting March 1.
Hong Kong received 56 million visitors in 2019, more than seven times its pre-pandemic population. But it’s strict COVID-19 restrictions have kept visitors away for the past three years, destroying the tourism sector and its economy. The city’s GDP fell 3.5% last year compared to 2021, according to preliminary government figures.
How will the free ticket scheme in Hong Kong work?
The distribution will begin on March 1 and will last for about six months, with tickets distributed in stages.
Free tickets will be distributed based in Hong Kong airlines Cathay Pacific, HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines, according to Fred Lam Tin-fuk, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Airport Authority.
Tickets will be rolled out gradually on overseas airline platforms, starting with Southeast Asian countries, followed by mainland China and Northeast Asia, according to Time Out Hong Kong.
In the summer, Hong Kong residents will receive another 80,000 free air tickets, and another 80,000 for residents of the Greater Bay area.
Visitors can also take advantage of special offers and vouchers among other incentives in the city.
One million vouchers worth over HK$100 (€11.60) each will provide discounts on food, drinks, transportation, hotels, shopping and attractions. According to Time Out Hong Kong, they will be distributed at tourist information desks located at four border checkpoints from 5:00 pm on February 2.
The city will also host over 250 events and festivals throughout 2023, from the Hong Kong Marathon to the Clockenflap Music Festival, Art Basel and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
What are the entry requirements for Hong Kong?
Hong Kong had some of the strictest rules for travelers during the pandemic.
The city has largely joined mainland China’s “COVID zero” strategy and has eased entry rules several months slower than rivals such as Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
In September, the mandatory quarantine on arrival was lifted. But even after Hong Kong reopened its border with mainland China in January, tourism recovery was sluggish.
Now the rules have been relaxed even more. Visitors no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival if they test negative for COVID.
Incoming tourists exposed to rapid antigen testing upon arrival and again on the fifth day of their visit. If you test positive, you must self-isolate for five days at your hotel or accommodation.
Proof vaccination also required for people over 12 unless you have evidence of a medical reason why you cannot be vaccinated.
Hong Kong residents who have not been fully vaccinated will be able to enter Hong Kong. Non-residents who are not fully vaccinated and have visited locations outside of mainland China, Macau or Taiwan within the past seven days will be denied entry to Hong Kong.
Travel between Hong Kong and mainland China requires a negative PCR test done no more than 48 hours before departure. If you are traveling through land border checkpoints, you must book quotas on the HKSARG online booking system. This is not required for air travel.
Virgin Atlantic ends flights to Hong Kong after 30 years
The closure of Russian airspace following the invasion of Ukraine means some airlines will not resume flights to the city.
This was announced by Virgin Atlantic. autumn that it will close its offices in Hong Kong in 30 years. Flights to the city were suspended when the pandemic hit and were scheduled to return as part of the 2023 summer schedule.
The carrier has decided to completely abandon the Asian tourist center. This decision was influenced by several factors, including the closure Russian airspace that adds at least an hour to travel time.
Customers who have booked travel to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic since March 2023 have been offered a refund, voucher or the option to rebook to an alternative itinerary with the airline.