This Once-Popular Destination Is Offering 500,000 Free Plane Tickets to Lure Tourists Back

It was once the most-visited city in the world.

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By Amanda Breen

Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost | Getty Images

Although many people have resumed vacationing after the peak of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, tourism isn't what it once was everywhere.

As of 2022, Hong Kong's visitor figures were less than a hundredth of the 65.1 million it saw in 2018, and in a bid to revive its lucrative tourism sector, the city and region of China is offering 500,000 free plane tickets to those willing to make the trip, The Washington Post reported.

Related: 7 Ways to Cut Travel Expenses on Your Next Funding Round

The ticket giveaway was announced by the city's leader John Lee at the "Hello Hong Kong" tourism campaign launch on Thursday, which featured dancers dressed as aircrew members and chefs, per the Post.

Once the world's most-visited city, Hong Kong's tourism sector took a hit in the second half of 2019 following violent anti-government protests, then again with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

According to the Post, the Hong Kong International Airport will cover the cost of the economy class airfare, but winners will be responsible for paying taxes and fees. The initiative is part of a Covid-relief package unveiled in 2020, which cost 2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($250 million U.S. dollars).

The free tickets will open to Southeast Asia residents on March 1, expand to mainland China in April, then northeast Asia and the rest of the world in May.

Related: 7 Entrepreneurs Who Built Businesses Off Their Love of Travel

"We need to make it clear that we are now totally, fully, unconditionally reopening to our travelers," Dane Cheng, executive director of the Hong Kong tourism board, said at a news conference.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a features writer at She is a graduate of Barnard College and recently completed the MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

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