Hong Kong will give away 500,000 free air tickets and city-wide offers to overseas visitors and 80,000 to HongKongers as part of the HK$1bn global promotional campaign "Hello Hong Kong".
During the kickoff ceremony of the campaign on 2 February, Airport Authority Hong Kong's CEO Fred Lam said that the 500,000 air tickets giveaway will start from 1 March for six months. He also said that majority of air tickets will be provided by three local airline companies including Cathay Pacific, HK Express and HK Airlines. "The tickets will be distributed via lucky draws, games, 'buy-one-get-one-free' offers, some will be provided by tourism industry and government departments," he added.
The tickets will be available first in Southeast Asia markets including Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. Northeast Asia and mainland China will come next. "In the next six to nine months, Hong Kong's tourism industry needs help the most. We can estimate that the campaign will bring over 1.5m tourists, accounting for 10% of passenger flow from March to September," he added. An additional 80,000 air tickets will be given away to residents in Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area respectively this summer.
Furthermore, the campaign has also invited local celebrities to take part including Aaron Kwok, Sammi Cheng, and Kelly Chen, as well as business leaders, foreign artist such as Korean singer Rain and Hong Kong Super Fans, showcasing the city’s array of new experiences and saying hello to tourists and calling on them to come visit. The campaign will be broadcast on 3,000 platforms worldwide and is expected to reach 2 billion people globally.
Social listening firm CARMA saw over 6,000 social mentions across print, online, and social media regarding the campaign over the last seven days. The mentions were largely positive (69.5%), with most netizens expressing their interest in travelling to Hong Kong. CARMA's Hong Kong GM Charles Cheung said: "It’s worth noting that most positive mentions were generated from netizens living outside of Hong Kong. We saw a large volume of mentions from netizens in Thailand, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Canada, and Japan."
On the other hand, the negative mentions mainly came from local netizens who were disappointed with the fact that the 500,000 air tickets were drawn from taxpayers in Hong Kong, and that the campaign is likely just going to benefit the major corporations and luxury retailers. Many also pointed out that the mask mandate remains a major turnoff for potential travellers, according to CARMA.
Meanwhile, The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has partnered with the tourism and hospitality sectors to launch welcome offers from over 16,000 outlets across the city. At least one million “Hong Kong Goodies” visitor consumption vouchers of value over HK$100 each will be given out, covering a complimentary welcome drink at participating bars, restaurants, and hotels, or a cash voucher to be redeemed in the transportation, culinary and retail sectors, and attractions.
Dane Cheng, executive director of The Hong Kong Tourism Board said at the kickoff ceremony that the HK$1bn campaign involves expenditure on filming campaign videos, visiting foreign exhibitions and inviting overseas media to Hong Kong. However, it does not include the fees of the free air tickets.
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Back in December 2022, HKTB introduced a number of initiatives to bring back visitors and travellers to Hong Kong, including rolling out a global promotional campaign "Hello Hong Kong. It will invite hundreds of industry representatives, travel trade media, KOLs and Hong Kong Super Fans from around the world to visit the city in person and experience the city for themselves. Other initiatives include showering visitors with hospitality treats and a wide range of offers. HKTB will also continue to organise an exciting line-up of mega-events. Over 100 large-scale MICE events will also be staged in town in 2023.
Recently, the Hong Kong government has set up a task force on promoting and branding Hong Kong to tell good stories of the city, as an effort to raise the city's international profile and enhance its branding and image. It has been established to focus on devising narratives for the new situation, new potentials and new opportunities in the city under its new development stage.
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