The Hong Kong government is offering 500,000 free airplane tickets to visitors keen to travel to the city in a measure to reverse four years of plunging tourism numbers and to revitalize the economy. Hong Kong also announced Friday that it would fully open its border with mainland China on Monday.
The city’s leader, John Lee, revealed the ticket giveaway during Thursday’s launch of the “Hello Hong Kong” tourism campaign, a spectacular event featuring dancers dressed as aircrew members and chefs. “This, ladies and gentlemen, is probably the world’s biggest welcome ever,” Lee said onstage.
The mass ticket handout will open to Southeast Asia residents on March 1. It will expand to mainland China in April and then northeast Asia and the rest of the world in May. Travelers can apply via the online channels of three participating Hong Kong airlines: Cathay Pacific, HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines.
Hong Kong was a global touristic destination before it was struck by a curse of political protests and the covid pandemic. In 2018, its visitor numbers skyrocketed to a record-high 65.1 million.