On The Radar: Free flights to Hong Kong for Asia's travellers

Hong Kong’s leader has launched a major HK$2 billion-plus campaign designed to boost tourism, business and investment, which will include a giveaway of at least 500,000 free airline tickets to visitors and city residents.

This is according to South China Morning Post, noting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu's “Hello Hong Kong” bid will increase the number of visitors, bolster business and attract investors as the city fights its way back to normality from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will be a welcome measure for Hong Kongers and their businesses who have spent three years locked out from the world due to the pandemic, and also struggled in 2019 with political protests that tainted the city’s reputation internationally.

According to Simple Flying, Cathay Pacific, HK Express, and Hong Kong Airlines will all be handing out the tickets in phases, starting with travellers from Southeast Asia on 1 March.

“The program doesn't come as a surprise, given the government has been buying tickets during the pandemic to support domestic airlines,” says the air industry website. Back in 2020, the Hong Kong Airport Authority purchased half a million air tickets from four domestic airlines (including now shuttered Cathay Dragon) at a cost of HK$2 billion (NZD$402m). The goal of the plan was simple: support the territory's carriers without more bailouts or loans that would increase debt. Now, after three years, these tickets will finally make it to potential visitors.After being made available to Southeast Asian nations, mainland China will have access to the tickets from April, and Northeast Asia from May onwards, showing a clear desire to target regional travellers who are only a few hours away from Hong Kong International Airport. 

“Hong Kong is now seamlessly connected to the mainland of China and the whole international world and there will be no isolation, no quarantine,” John Lee said.NZ Herald reports various promotional activities, including lucky draws, “buy one, get one free” promotions and games will be used during the campaign. Fred Lam, CEO of the Hong Kong Airport Authority, said, “We hope those who secure the air tickets can bring two or three more relatives and friends to the city. Although we are just giving away 500,000 air tickets, we believe this can help bring Hong Kong over 1.5 million visitors.”

Banner image: Photo by Kevin Bosc on Unsplash  

- Asia Media Centre