The government in Hong Kong has unveiled plans to give away 500,000 free airline tickets as part of an initiative to boost tourism and draw visitors back to the city.
The “Hello Hong Kong” initiative was revealed for the first time on Thursday but it is the culmination of two years of work.
Free tickets to Hong Kong will be made available for three airlines, Cathay Pacific, HK Express, and Hongkong Airlines. The initiative will cost the city approximately $254.8 million.
Winning a ticket to Hong Kong
Travelers keen on trying their luck to visit the city can visit the World of Winners website to enter their names into the flight ticket lottery.
The ticket lottery will take place over three waves. The first wave is set to take place in March and is only open to residents in Southeast Asia. The second wave is scheduled for April and will be available to entries from mainland China. The third and final wave will open in May and will be available to the rest of the world.
Some of the tickets will also be available to local residents of Hong Kong. Ticket draws for locals will open on July 1.
Bringing back tourists
The “Hello Hong Kong” initiative is part of an effort to attract visitors back to the city after the COVID-19 pandemic greatly diminished global travel.
Hong Kong took a cautious approach to the spread of disease and canceled in-person meetings as early as January 2020, when reports of infections in China’s Wuhan first appeared.
Traveling to Hong Kong was difficult during the height of the pandemic. Multiple PCR tests were required as well as periods of isolation, which could last as long as 21 days. Individuals who tested positive for the virus were sent to government facilities.
According to figures from CNN, Hong Kong attracted 56 million visitors annually before the pandemic. By 2022, that figure dramatically to roughly 100,000.
Now, however, officials in Hong Kong are hoping that they can attract pre-pandemic numbers of visitors back to the city.