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Hong Kong woos tourists with air tickets and vouchers

Hong Kong has unveiled a new promotion campaign, including 500,000 free flights, to lure visitors back after more than three years of tough COVID-19 rules.

February 3, 2023
By Kanis Leung
3 February 2023

Hong Kong will give away air tickets and vouchers to woo tourists back to the international financial hub, racing to catch up with other popular travel destinations in a fierce regional competition.

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 Wednesday, Chief Executive John Lee launched a tourism campaign, Hello Hong Kong, saying the city would offer 500,000 free air tickets to welcome tourists from around the world.

“Hong Kong is now seamlessly connected to the mainland of China and the whole international world and there will be no isolation, no quarantine,” he said at a ceremony.

“This is the perfect timing for tourists, business travellers and investors from near and far to come and say, ‘Hello, Hong Kong’.”

Visitors could also enjoy special offers and vouchers among other incentives in the city, Lee said.

Hong Kong received 56 million visitors in 2019 – more than seven times its population – before the pandemic began.

But its strict COVID-19 restrictions have been keeping visitors away over the past three years, devastating the tourism sector and its economy.

The city’s GDP last year fell 3.5 per cent from 2021, according to the government’s provisional data.

In the past few months, it finally dropped its mandatory hotel quarantine rule and PCR tests for incoming travellers, resulting in a slight increase in arrival figures.

Still, its 2022 visitor numbers were just one per cent of the 2019 level.

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