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.
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.
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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.
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"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.