Hong Kong will start giving away 500,000 airline tickets from Wednesday in a bid to attract visitors and boost its slumping economy, just as it ends its mandatory mask-wearing rule.
Tickets will be distributed by the city’s airlines – Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and its budget unit HK Express, as well as Hong Kong Airlines Ltd and newcomer Greater Bay Airlines Co.
Who gets them first?
Resident in Thailand, initially. Cathay will hand out 80,000 round-trip tickets in March, with 17,400 allocated to Thailand from Wednesday. It will then expand the handouts to Singapore and the Philippines later this week, and other nearby Asian countries in the coming days.
|cathay freebie schedule||number of tickets|
|Thailand||from March 1||17,400|
|Singapore||March 2 – 8||12,500|
|Philippines||March 3 – 9||20,400|
|Indonesia||March 15 – 21||11,510|
|malaysia||March 16 – 22||7,000|
|Vietnam||March 17 – 23||8,800|
|cambodia||March 18 – 24||2,390|
Hong Kong Airlines will also deliver tickets to residents of Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam from Wednesday. The carrier has not disclosed how many tickets will be given to each country. Greater Bay Airlines will offer tickets to Taiwan in May, followed by South Korea in July. HK Express will join the campaign in April, but has not disclosed details.
Free tickets will open to mainland Chinese residents in April. Some 80,000 tickets will become available to Hong Kong residents in July, although it is unclear which routes they will be valid for. The officials have also not given the different timelines for the handouts and the reason for placing the orders.
how to apply?
Cathay requires people to register on its website and take part in a quiz with three questions. Tickets will be distributed on a first come first serve basis to those who answer correctly. Each applicant can submit only one entry. Winners will be announced on the campaign website on April 3 and will receive a confirmation email the same day.
Hong Kong Airlines will also distribute tickets on a first come first serve basis. It has released the application details on its campaign page.
Who is eligible and other terms and conditions?
Cathay says participants must be at least 18 years old and each winner can only get one ticket. Winners are still required to pay taxes and surcharges, and tickets are not refundable, redeemable for cash or transferable. You also can’t upgrade seats using cash or frequent-flyer miles.
Do tickets expire?
Yes, according to Cathay. Winners will receive a unique code via email once the redemption period begins. It must be used within one month to get the ticket.
When booking tickets, says Cathay, there is a minimum stay of two days and a maximum of seven days in Hong Kong. Winners are required to travel within nine months of receiving the email containing the redemption code. Rebooking fees are HK$1,200 ($150).
Why is Hong Kong doing this?
Tourism has traditionally been a major contributor to Hong Kong’s coffers, but three years of Covid restrictions that have largely sealed off the city from the outside world have hurt its economy, leaving it behind rival hub Singapore.
Hong Kong’s economy is set to shrink 3.5% in 2022 – the third contraction in four years – and it has a deficit of HK$140 billion for fiscal year 2022-2023, nearly three times the government’s original estimate.
The ticket giveaway is part of the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign to promote the city as a tourism hub and bring back visitors. The Airports Authority of Hong Kong bought tickets in 2020 as part of a HK$2 billion rescue package for the aviation industry. Click here for more information from the Airport Authority.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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