It’s hard to believe that two and half years have passed since we first learned about COVID-19, and for many, this has meant cancelling or rescheduling plans to their favourite destinations, such as Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong. However, as Hong Kong finally eases travel restrictions, there’s perhaps a light at the end of this tunnel: the city is giving away 500,000 plane tickets to lure visitors back to its once bustling streets.
Hong Kong attempts to reconnect with the world with free plane tickets
The Airport Authority Hong Kong raised HK$2 billion in 2020 to purchase around 500,000 plane tickets from carriers like Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express, and Cathay Dragon.
The giving away of plane tickets marks yet another attempt at Hong Kong’s commitment to reconnecting with the rest of the world. Recently, Hong Kong finally scrapped the mandatory hotel quarantine and reduced the health surveillance period from four to three days, making it more viable for international visitors to return. The plane ticket giveaway is part of global campaign next year when the city removes all epidemic curbs for arrivals.
Executive director of Hong Kong’s Tourism Board Dane Cheng Ting-yat said that his organisation would be handling this massive advertising campaign to lure tourists back in early 2023, while the Airport Authority would be in charge of distributing the tickets.
“The free plane tickets are not all for inbound tourists. Some of them will be given to outbound travellers, while some will be distributed via travel agents,” he added.
Hong Kong may further relax remaining travel rules
As the government removes the mandatory hotel quarantine on inbound arrivals, Chief Executive John Lee may announce the plan to bounce back to normalcy in his October policy address, reports Sing Tao Daily. Free plane tickets are one of the measures aimed at reviving tourism in the city. The city’s rigid Covid-19 rules have kept it isolated for most of the pandemic, hurting its reputation as a global financial centre.
According to reports, Hong Kong may scrap the remaining restrictions on inbound travellers that restricts their movements to public places three days after arrival. Following the recent removal of the hotel quarantine, there are growing expectations that Hong Kong will attempt to remove the remaining restrictions too.
The government hopes that tourists will return to the city in one or two quarters once the Hong Kong government eases further travel restrictions, including the town’s three-day bar and restaurant ban.