- by travelpulse
- 20 Mar 2023
Mere weeks ago, Hong Kong-which had adhered to mainland China's strict "Zero COVID" policy throughout most of the pandemic-finally rolled back some of its COVID-era travel restrictions.
The Special Administrative Region (SAR) eliminated its long-held quarantine requirement for international visitors and downgraded its pre-travel testing requirements from negative PCR tests to negative rapid antigen tests. However, travelers are still required to take post-arrival PCR tests on days 2, 4 and 6 of their visit, and take a rapid antigen test every day of the first week following their arrival.
But, now that the city, which had been a major Asian tourism and air travel hub pre-pandemic, is attempting to attract outside visitors again, it seems that airlines are having a hard time rebuilding their flight schedules to and from the destination.
In the first eight months of 2022, Hong Kong saw only 184,000 foreign arrivals, a monumental drop from the SAR's pre-pandemic visitor counts-56 million tourist arrivals in 2019.
Seeking to remedy the situation, Hong Kong's airport authority plans to give away 500,000 airline tickets, worth HK$2 billion ($254.8 million) for free, BBC News reported.
"The airport authority will finalize the arrangement with airline companies. Once the government announces it will remove all Covid-19 restrictions for inbound travelers, we'll roll out the advertising campaigns for the free air tickets," Dane Cheng, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board said.
Cheng explained that the free tickets were purchased to support Hong Kong's airlines amid the COVID-19 slump. He said that the airport authority will be distributing them to inbound and outbound travelers in 2023.
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