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Friday, Mar 31, 2023

Wait for free airline tickets to end soon

Wait for free airline tickets to end soon

The government is expected to announce details for giving away 500,000 airline tickets to tourists as early as Thursday, sources said.
The Tourism Board in October announced that flight tickets worth HK$2 billion will be given free to tourists. It is understood the board will also distribute shopping coupons to visitors to boost the city's consumption.

The air tickets were purchased by the Airport Authority from local airlines in 2020 to relieve their cash-flow pressure during the pandemic. Government officials had claimed the tickets could be saved for when the SAR relaunches its tourism campaign once the pandemic stabilizes.

Tourism sector lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung said that a part of the 500,000 air tickets has been used as prizes in Covid-19 vaccination lucky draws. He believed that the remaining tickets would be used to attract overseas tourists with most tickets distributed through airlines and the rest arranged through travel agencies.

Yiu also said the tickets could be distributed in phases since flight capacity has not fully resumed and the tickets will be mainly given to tourists from short-haul markets including the mainland, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries.

Yiu believed that various types of vouchers will be given to tourists as he learned that the Tourism Board has been in discussions with restaurants and bars.

He said the vouchers would be like "icing on the cake" to further boost the city's tourism sector.

Timothy Chui Ting-pong, executive director of the Tourism Association, said the aim of distributing free flight tickets is to tell the world that Hong Kong has resumed its businesses.

Chui hoped that a portion of the free air tickets will be reserved for mainland tourists as they accounted for 78 percent of visitor arrivals in 2019 and also had the highest spending power.

"Many other countries are striving to get mainland tourists to travel and spend money there," Chui said. "The quickest way to save Hong Kong's economy is by giving away flight tickets to tourists from big mainland cities."

Chui also suggested that authorities should give away free cross-border bus tickets or high-speed rail tickets to further attract more mainland tourists.

He cited the example of Macau offering "buy one, get one free" bus or ferry tickets to visitors, with many Hongkongers planning to take advantage of the scheme - if they hadn't done so already.

"It works in terms of gimmick and there were practical results," Chui added.

Earlier this month, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said authorities will give away the 500,000 free air tickets through different schemes while the government will launch a large-scale promotional campaign next month.

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