Hong Kong is giving away 500,000 airline tickets to woo tourists back to the region. The city has loosened COVID travel restrictions, such as the demand for initial isolation, in recent months. Travel to the Chinese mainland will become easier starting the following week, according to a recent announcement.

The pandemic’s disastrous impact on the country’s tourism industry has motivated it to now work towards recovery. 500,000 airline tickets worth more than €250 million will also be distributed as part of Hong Kong’s plan.

To help airlines during the epidemic, free tickets were first purchased. The free flight offer will start on 1 March as part of the $2 billion (€1.8 billion) “Hello Hong Kong” promotion, which was unveiled on Wednesday, 1 February.

In 2019, Hong Kong saw 56 million visitors—more than seven times the number of residents—before the epidemic took hold. However, during the past three years, the country’s strict COVID restrictions have effectively destroyed its tourism business and economy by deterring tourists.

According to preliminary official data for 2018, the city’s GDP declined by 3.5% from 2021. Tickets will be distributed in phases throughout the raffle, which will start on March 1 and run roughly six months.

The complimentary tickets will be provided by Hong Kong-based airlines Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express, and Cathay Pacific. Tickets would be offered gradually on the airlines’ foreign platforms, starting with Southeast Asian countries and then going on to mainland China and Northeastern Asia after that, according to Time Out Hong Kong.

In the summer, Greater Bay Area residents will receive an additional 80,000 free plane tickets, while residents of Hong Kong will receive an additional 80,000 free tickets.

Special offers and promotions are available to guests in the city as additional incentives. There will be one million vouchers available, each worth more than HKD100 (€11.60), which may be used for discounts on hotel, dining, travel, shopping, and activities.

These will be distributed at the four border crossing visitor information desks beginning at 5 p.m. on February 2, according to Time Out Hong Kong. In 2023, more than 250 occasions and celebrations will take place throughout the city, including the Hong Kong Marathon, the Clockenflap music festival, Art Basel, and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.

Hong Kong has maintained some of the most stringent rules for travelers throughout the pandemic. A month after rival cities like Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan, the city typically followed the “zero-COVID” policy of the Chinese mainland.

September saw the end of mandatory arrival quarantine. Even when Hong Kong’s border with mainland of China was reopened in January, the tourism sector took some time to fully recover. Now the rules have been even more relaxed. Visitors are no longer obliged to self-isolate if they undergo a COVID test when they arrive.

Both on day one of a visitor’s stay and day five, rapid antigen testing is utilized. If your test is positive, you must spend the next five days living alone in a hotel or other type of accommodation.

People over 12 must also present proof of immunization unless they can demonstrate a medical condition that precludes them from obtaining the injection.

Admission of Hong Kong residents who are not fully immunized is acceptable. Non-residents are not permitted entry into Hong Kong if they are entirely unvaccinated and have just left Taiwan, Macao, or mainland China.

Beginning on Monday, February 6, there will be no longer restrictions on travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Before this, authorization to travel by land was contingent upon both a negative PCR test and pre-registration.

The following Monday, February 6, will see the full reopening of the Hong Kong-Mainland border. First of all, a complete opening of the border entails no restrictions on the number of travelers at any border crossing, no need for reservations in advance, and unrestricted movement.

Second, there will no longer be a requirement for pre-entry COVID-19 testing, which eliminates the necessity for COVID and other tests and enables anyone to enter and exit at their discretion. In the third stage, all immigration checkpoints will be opened.