Flight to Hong Kong: "There is no more isolation, no quarantine and no restrictions if you want to experience the hustle and bustle in Asia's cosmopolitan city"
Photo: Patrick Photo / iStockphoto / Getty Images
Street food stalls in urban canyons, water taxis in Victoria Harbour, offshore islands and forested mountains - and only this skyline!
Hong Kong is one attraction.
Except that in the end hardly anyone came by to experience them.
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Measured by the number of visitors before the pandemic, tourism in the Asian megacity has practically come to a standstill.
According to the Tourist Office, Hong Kong had 56 million guests in 2019, compared to just over 90,000 in 2021.
Last year the curve went up again slightly, and just over 600,000 people came, still a fraction of the pre-corona level.
The reason: Of course, the pandemic and the strict measures to combat it, dictated by Beijing and vehemently enforced for a long time.
But now there are no longer any entry restrictions - and the city and Chinese special administrative zone are celebrating this with a lure offer from which business people, investors, but also foreign holidaymakers should benefit.
Hong Kong plans to give away half a million airline tickets to boost its economy, which shrank 3.5 percent last year.
It will be "probably the world's greatest welcome of all time," said Prime Minister John Lee, according to a "Bloomberg" report.
Plans for the "Hello Hong Kong" campaign had been known for a few months.
Well, at an event in a convention hall at the port, Lee gave the starting signal and also gave the first details.
How to get a free flight to Hong Kong?
According to the information, the campaign will start at the beginning of March.
The campaign will run for six months.
According to Lee in Hong Kong, there will be different ways to get hold of one of the free tickets.
There will be a kind of lottery for this, i.e. the classic lottery procedure.
But in addition, interested parties would be able to purchase a free flight, so to speak, by getting a second free flight when they book a paid ticket to Hong Kong – according to the “two for the price of one” principle.
The flight tickets will be available through local airlines.
The head of the airport authority, Fred Lam, specifically named Cathay Pacific, its low-cost airline HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines.
The tickets are to be issued in phases, writes the British "Evening Standard".
The Southeast Asian market will be the first to apply for airline tickets, according to the report.
The tickets would have a total value of around two billion Hong Kong dollars, which corresponds to more than 230 million euros.
The metropolis with more than seven million inhabitants had already relaxed the strict corona measures in autumn - well before mainland China did.
What had previously deterred many was a hotel quarantine and intensive testing obligations, which one had to accept for up to three weeks after entry.
Hong Kong is now connected to the whole world again, said Prime Minister Lee, "there is no more isolation, no quarantine and no restrictions if you want to experience the hustle and bustle in Asia's cosmopolitan city".
Hong Kong's image has suffered massively recently
It remains to be seen whether there are many people who are now drawn to Hong Kong.
How popular is the former British crown colony actually still?
Most recently, Hong Kong recorded the largest population decline since records began.
Tens of thousands of residents left the special administrative region between mid-2021 and mid-2022.
It seems extremely doubtful that Corona alone is responsible for this - and also for the decline in visitors.
For many years, Hong Kong topped the list of the world's most visited cities.
But the first signs of a negative trend reversal were already evident in 2019 – i.e. before Corona.
At that time, the market research institute Euromonitor International Hong Kong predicted a drop in visitor numbers of 8.7 percent.
And that was for political reasons.
The people of Hong Kong were fed up with the Chinese government's empty promises at the time.
Hardly anything was left of the extensive autonomy and freedom that Beijing had once promised the former British crown colony.
Pictures of the protests by the democracy movement went around the world.
In 2019, the security forces of China's special administrative region cracked down on demonstrators rebelling against Chinese influence with increasing severity.
John Lee, who has been Hong Kong's prime minister since the summer of 2022, is considered a particularly loyal official to Beijing.
And in 2019 it was he who, as head of security, was largely responsible for the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.
It should be clear to him that Hong Kong's decline in visitors is not a severe coronadelle.
What rules apply to entry?
The mask requirement in certain situations has remained in Hong Kong from the corona measures.
According to the travel and safety instructions of the Federal Foreign Office, it is mandatory to wear mouth and nose protection in public spaces and while on public transport and taxis.
The following also applies to entry: All non-Hong Kong residents over the age of twelve must be vaccinated when entering from third countries.
"All travelers who are at least four years old on the day of arrival in Hong Kong must show a negative PCR test (within 48 hours before departure) or a negative rapid test (within 24 hours before departure)." After entry would but no other restrictions apply.
"The Hong Kong government recommends carrying out a daily rapid test five days after entry," writes the Foreign Office.