The revelation of upcoming activities as part of the HK$20m 'Happy Hong Kong' campaign, including offering HK$30 cinema tickets this Saturday and launching free large-scale food markets, has drawn mixed reactions across social platforms.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Hong Kong's finance chief Paul Chan said that as part of the campaign, this Saturday would be “Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023,” where all cinema tickets across the city will cost HK$30 each. All 61 theatres in Hong Kong will take part in the initiative. Start from 11am on 27 April, tickets will be sold at the box office of all theatres and their online ticketing websites. Each person can only purchase a maximum of 4 tickets at the box office of the theatre, online ticket purchases are subject to the ticket purchase restrictions of each theatre.
Done in collaboration with The Hong Kong Theatres Association, the "Cinemas Day 2023" aims to promote the public to return to the theatres as a daily entertainment, "We would like to bring happiness and joy to HK citizens, and to promote more attractive pop culture movies to HK citizens, more importantly hoping them return to theatres to enjoy movies, 'Cinema Day' will definitely play a positive and encouraging role in the film industry!" HKTA said in its statement.
According to HKTA, discounts below HK$30 for seniors for first show and seniors’ morning shows will be maintained. Ticket price will be standardised at $30 for seniors, children and students except private screenings and special programmes. All other exchange vouchers, movie coupons, membership discounts and bank discounts are not applicable on the that day.
As part of the campaign, the government will also launch three free "Gourmet Marketplaces" across the city between April and June, starting with an event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai this weekend. 100,000 free entry tickets will be made available for the Wan Chai food market, with tickets available from one of Home Affairs Enquiry Centres located in each of the city’s 18 districts from Wednesday, according to home affairs chief Alice Mak.
The second food market will take place on 6 May and 7 May at Sha Tin Town Hall Plaza and Sha Tin Park with the theme of Chinese cuisines and local delicacies, while the third one will be held on 3 June and 4 June at the harbour-front VESSEL in Kwun Tong, showcasing Asian cuisines including wine and dining. Both events are free for entry and do not require admission tickets, said Mak.
Another highlight of the campaign is the upcoming large‑scale sea‑land carnival by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on the Wan Chai promenade in July and August. The event will last for five consecutive weekends, from 8 July to 6 August. It will be held free every Saturday and Sunday from 6pm to 11pm. The carnival will feature music concerts with singers and bands from around the world, as well as X Games elements and street performances such as BMX and skateboards. Moreover, a brand new lighting show (幻彩詠香江 )will also be staged from 7 August to 8 August to offer a new experience to the public and visitors while they are enjoying the spectacular view of the harbour.
Furthermore, Ocean Park will also step in to launch “Chill All Night” event every Saturday night in June (3, 10, 17, and 24 June), allowing up to 5,000 visitors to enter for free each night to enjoy multimedia Light show and live shows. To foster cultural exchange between east and west, the government has also invited the Manchester United Academy U-16 youth team to come to Hong Kong in August for a week-long cultural and football exchange programme and play two friendly matches on 9 August and 12 August against local elite youth players.
Mixed reactions across social platforms
When asked how the administration would evaluate the effectiveness or success of the campaign, Paul Chan said that it would be “pretty difficult to have a very well-defined numeric criteria to be established as happiness is a kind of personal experience and it can be very emotional”.
However, the campaign has definitely drawn mixed reactions from local netizens. According to media intelligence firm CARMA, there has been a marked increase in media coverage surrounding the "Happy Hong Kong" campaign over the past 24 hours. Of the coverage, 21.6% of mentions were positive, while 25.7% were negative. Netizens have taken to various social media platforms to express their opinions, with many indicating their disappointment with the campaign.
CARMA's Hong Kong GM Charles Cheung said: "Notably, users on LIHKG criticised the campaign's name as outdated and reminiscent of 1980s-era campaigns. Many questioned whether the government truly understands what brings happiness to Hong Kong residents, with some suggesting that an additional round of consumption voucher scheme would be more effective."
Some netizens pointed out that the campaign appeared to be geared towards senior citizens, as one must have the time to queue up at Home Affairs Enquiry Centres to collect free entry tickets to the food market, according to CARMA.
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