GOOD news for foreign tourists who want to visit Hong Kong this year. The special administrative government of the Chinese region will distribute as many as 500,000 free plane tickets to welcome tourists from all over the world.

This news was conveyed by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee, on Thursday (02/02), 2023. He launched a tourism campaign entitled ‘Hello Hong Kong’ and the 500,000 free airplane tickets offer is the largest tourist welcome ever in the world.

“This is the right time for tourists, business travelers and investors from near and far to come and say, ‘Hello, Hong Kong’,” Lee said.

Quoted from the Associated Press, during the pandemic hit the city, most aligned themselves with China’s strict zero-COVID policy. Since the policy is no longer valid in December 2022, it has relaxed various border entry rules. Although the implementation of this easing is slower than competing countries such as Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.

“Hong Kong is now seamlessly connected to mainland China and the rest of the international world and there will be no isolation, no quarantine,” continued Lee.

However, although its border with China reopened in January, tourism recovery in Hong Kong is still slow. As a result, it also offers free airline tickets and various vouchers to attract foreign tourists back – while racing to catch up with other popular tourist countries.

The New York Post reported, in the ‘Hello, Hong Kong’ campaign, the offer of 500,000 free airline tickets cost a budget of US$255 million (IDR3.9 trillion). Hong Kong authorities have worked with local airlines through various promotional activities – including lucky draws, ‘buy one get one’ promotions and so on.

“The project will start in March and last for six months. We hope that those who get airplane tickets can bring two or three of their relatives and friends to the city. Although we are only giving away 500,000 air tickets, we believe this can help bring more than 1.5 million visitors to Hong Kong,” said Airport Authority CEO, Fred Lam.

Lam added, airlines will distribute flight tickets in stages and it will prioritize tourists from Southeast Asia first. Then, as many as 80,000 additional tickets will be given to Hong Kong residents in the summer.

Not only that, continued Lam, those who live in the Greater Bay Area can also get offers of 700,000 tickets in total. The Greater Bay Area is an initiative of the Communist Party government to connect Hong Kong with surrounding Chinese cities – such as Shenzhen City which is a technology and financial center, and Dongguan and Foshan which are famous as manufacturing centers.

“Visitors can also enjoy special offers and vouchers among other incentives in the city,” Lee concluded. [sources/photo special]