Hong Kong is offering free airline tickets, spending vouchers and special events in their efforts to bring travelers back after COVID-19 travel restrictions were lifted.
On Thursday, Hong Kong leader John Lee launched the $2 billion “Hello Hong Kong” travel revitalization plan that had been in preparation for over two years.
Starting on Mar. 1, Hong Kong-based airlines Cathay Pacific, HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines will distribute 500,000 free tickets for six months, reported Fred Lam Tin-Fuk, Airport Authority Hong Kong’s chief executive officer.
The tickets were purchased in 2020 as part of a relief package offered to airlines as support during the pandemic, costing the city 2 billion Hong Kong dollars (approximately $255 million).
During the launch ceremony, Lee called the initiative “probably the world’s biggest welcome ever.”
Southeast Asia residents will be the first group eligible for the “World of Winners” giveaway in March, followed by mainland China in April.
Northeast Asia, including South Korea and Japan, along with the rest of the world will be eligible in May.
The tickets will be distributed through lucky draws, games, competitions and buy-one-get-one deals. However, winners of the free economy class tickets will be required to pay any additional fees and taxes.
There will also be an additional 80,000 tickets distributed to Hong Kong residents in the summer, and 80,000 more to residents in the Greater Bay Area.
On top of the ticket and voucher giveaway, the city plans to host more than 250 events and festivals throughout the year. Discounts on food, drinks, transport, hotels, retail and attractions in the form of vouchers are also being handed out at border checkpoints.
While detailed information on the giveaway has not been released yet, signing up for the Cathay membership program will allow participants to receive a reminder to enter the giveaway.
Hong Kong Airlines plans to release their giveaway details on March 1.
The airline’s free tickets will include checked baggage.
On Feb. 6, mainland China will fully reopen its borders to Hong Kong and Macau, dropping all travel restrictions.
“A full opening of the border means, firstly, that there will be no limit on the number of people at all border crossings, no need to make prior reservations, and you can travel freely as you want,” Lee said at a press conference.
Secondly, the requirement for pre-entry COVID-19 testing will be abolished, so that COVID and other tests will no longer be required, and (people) are free to enter and leave. Thirdly, all immigration control points will be opened.
Although masks are still required, Lee mentioned that the mandate may be lifted after the winter season.