Hong Kong Will Give Away 500,000 Free Flight Tickets When Travel Restrictions Are Dropped
Hong Kong may have one of the strictest, and perhaps even ridiculous entry requirements currently, standing alone among all major destinations in expecting guests to get tested multiple times when visiting, but they are planning on a generous incentive to lure back tourists once borders reopen fully: they are giving away 500,000 free flight tickets.
Currently, in order to be eligible to travel to the Chinese Special Administrative Region, also known as one of China’s ‘free’ cities, arrivals must submit a valid vaccination certificate and agree to test themselves repeatedly up to Day 7 after landing, as well as reporting all results to the relevant authorities.
Needless to say, demand for Hong Kong has reached an all-time low level:
Cantonese City Is Fighting To Stay Relevant Amid Stringent Curbs
Previously home to one of the top airports in Asia, Hong Kong has slipped from an enviable number two position to somewhere out of the top fifty on a list of the world’s best-connected airports, mainly because so few tourists are actually flying into the city that airlines are dropping it from their flight schedule altogether.
In fact, Virgin Atlantic suspended service from London to Hong Kong permanently, ending a historic route that had been well-established and maintained for over three decades. Last year, American Airlines also gave up on the hub, severing what many once saw as a vital link between the Cantonese capital and the United States – not anymore.
Realizing the damage being caused, thanks to its own draconian measures and open anti-tourism policies, the Airport Authority of Hong Kong will be purchasing 500,000 plane tickets to the tune of two billion Hong Kong dollars, or USD 254.778.600.00, at the October 7, 2022 exchange rate. The plan is to give them away and encourage foreigners to return.
The tickets will be distributed between four main carriers, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express, and Cathay Dragon, a select list of airlines that have continued to serve the region in spite of its travel bans. Besides British Airways, set to resume service in December, Cathay Pacific is now the only company flying between London and Hong Kong.
How And When Will I Able Be Apply For A Free Ticket To Visit Hong Kong?
That’s still a mystery.
We are not able to tell you, at this stage, how and when tourists will be able to apply for a free ticket to visit Hong Kong, though we can expect applications to be submitted online via an official platform yet to be unveiled. Furthermore, it is likely the tickets will be available once Hong Kong drops all Covid curbs.
In his address to Hong Kong residents, Chief Executive John Lee hinted at plans of re-instating normalcy soon across the special region. There is, of course, the question of what exactly ‘normalcy’ means here, but we would expect it to be the removal of all Covid curbs, including those applying to layover passengers or short-term visitors.
This surprising move is a clear attempt of Hong Kong to reconnect with the world after it completely shut its doors to non-residents for nearly three years. It follows the city’s recent relaxation of rules, though not to an extent that allows normal tourism to resume, like the fellow East Asian gem of Japan has envisioned.
How Difficult Is It To Enter Hong Kong Right Now?
Traveling to Hong Kong, one must:
- First of all, produce a vaccine certificate and undergo pre-departure testing*;
- Submit their personal and health information on the Health & Quarantine Information Declaration Form ahead of boarding their flight;
- On Day 1, enter quarantine and submit a negative Rapid Antigen test result;
- On Day 2, remain in quarantine and submit both a negative Rapid Antigen and PCR test results;
- On Day 3, undergo a third Rapid Antigen test. Quarantine ends**;
- On Day 4, a PCR and Rapid Antigen test is required, though tourists can move freely;
- On Day 5, a fourth Rapid Antigen test under a free movement regime;
- On Day 6, both Covid tests need to be repeated a final time, while visitors can wander restriction-free;
- On Day 7, a final Rapid Antigen test must be submitted, after which point surveillance ends.
*This may entail having fulfilled a primary vaccination course and any number of boosters the city’s authorities judge necessary
**This is subject to a negative test result being presented on Day 3
Strict Entry Regime Is Hurting Hong Kong’s Reputation As A Global City
We know it sounds shocking, but this is the approach the Asian metropolis has chosen to take, even after removing a prohibitive 21-day hotel quarantine. While it doesn’t surprise us, considering Asian countries routinely barred all forms of tourism in hopes of stopping the virus, the caution applied by Hong Kong is arguably excessive.
As Lifestyle Asia reports, this behavior has hurt the city’s reputation as a global financial center, especially at a time when a majority of its Asian counterparts are months ahead in their path to a wider tourism relaunch, Cambodia being the latest to have eased social curbs and announced its own reopening plans.