Hong Kong Government to give away free flights

By Catherine Eade
Home » Hong Kong Government to give away free flights

The Hong Kong Government will give away 500,000 free air tickets in a bid to revive its tourist industry damaged by strict COVID restrictions.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong is believed to have set aside an estimated £225 million in 2020 for buying half a million flight tickets from airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express and Cathay Pacific.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board says the free tickets will be distributed next year to inbound and outbound travellers by the city’s airport authority, which will finalise arrangements with airlines.

“Once the government announces it will remove all COVID-19 restrictions for inbound travellers, we’ll roll out the advertising campaigns for the free air tickets,” Dane Cheng, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board told the BBC.

In the first eight months of this year Hong Kong recorded just 184,000 visitors, a significant drop compared to before the pandemic of 56m a year.

The news of the free flights comes as Virgin Atlantic announced it was ending its Hong Kong service and closing its offices after 30 years in the Asian hub.

Intrepid Travel, which stopped running tours in or from Hong Kong in the pandemic says it remains hopeful it will be able to get travellers back there soon.

“We look forward to hearing more about the scheme and will be watching closely to see if it increases interest in Hong Kong as a destination again with our customers,” said an Intrepid spokesperson.

A spokesperson for Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) said it was working with airlines on the relevant arrangements, “Back in 2020 AAHK purchased around 500,000 air tickets in advance from Hong Kong’s home-based airlines as part of a relief package to support the aviation industry. The tickets will be given away to global visitors and Hong Kong residents in the market recovery campaign.”

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