Hong Kong Is Giving Away 500,000 Free Flights

The territory is hoping that these free air tickets will bring more tourists in

Skyscrapers at night, Hong Kong skyline

Kanok Sulaiman / Getty Images

Hong Kong's tourism board has announced that it has 500,000 free air tickets it's planning to give away—but only when the territory's government lifts its COVID-19 restrictions. The tickets, worth more than $254 million, were bought at the height of the pandemic in support of Hong Kong airlines and are set to be distributed sometime next year.

"The airport authority will finalize the arrangement with airline companies. Once the government announces it will remove all Covid-19 restrictions for inbound travelers, we'll roll out the advertising campaigns for the free air tickets," said Dane Cheng, the executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

This multi-million dollar advertising campaign includes a plan to invite over 500 social media influencers to the city to do what they do best—show off the area and promote it to other tourists. Initially, the campaign will focus on the neighboring Asian countries and spread further as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The territory has already reduced some COVID-19 restrictions, including nixing a mandatory hotel quarantine stay. Still, its testing requirements, mask mandate, and entertainment ban remain, making experts fearful tourists will continue to stay away.

CNN reported that while residents of Hong Kong are more than ready to start traveling again—tickets from Hong Kong to Tokyo saw a nine-fold surge—there was relatively no change in the interest in flights to Hong Kong.

To make matters worse, flight schedules to the territory are also in disarray because of the current conflict in Ukraine. British airline Virgin Atlantic announced on Oct. 5 that they would be "permanently ceasing all operations" in Hong Kong because of issues related to the closure of Russian airspace.

Despite this, there is hope for the city and its tourism. Prudence Lai, a senior analyst at Euromonitor International, a market research firm, told the BBC that she believes the free air tickets could be the key to revving Hong Kong as a tourist destination.

Article Sources
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  1. BBC. "Covid: Hong Kong to Lure Tourists With Free Air Tickets." October 6, 2022.

  2. Paddle Your Own Kanoo. "Hong Kong is to Give Away 500,000 Free Air Tickets in Bid to Revive Battered Tourism Industry." October 6, 2022.

  3. CNN. "Hong Kong Is Opening Up to Tourism -- But Is It Too Late?" October 7, 2022.