Hong Kong To Distribute 700,000 Free Airline Tickets March – August 2023

Hong Kong hinted last October (read more here) that the city would launch a major promotion in late 2022/early 2023 to promote traveling to Hong Kong, which was mostly closed for international arrivals until October 2022 without one to three week long quarantines.

Half a million tickets will be distributed to incoming visitors by Hong Kong’s three airlines of Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, and HK Express, starting on March 1st and lasting for six months. In addition, there will be additional 80,000 tickets distributed to Hongkongers to travel overseas and another 80,000 to Greater Bay residents.

You can access Hong Kong Airport’s website for this campaign here.

Key Facts:

  • 500,000 “free” tickets for international visitors to visit Hong Kong
  • 80,000 free tickets to Hongkongers to travel overseas and another 80,000 to Greater Bay residents
  • Begins in stages; March – Southeast Asia, April – Mainland China, May – North East Asia + other markets
  • May not be free – It could be buy one get another one for free
  • Free ticket distribution to Hongkongers begins in July
  • 65% of the free tickets will be distributed by the airlines, and the rest by the HKSAR government
  • Need to apply for Cathay Pacific website here, HK Express website here, and Hong Kong Airlines website here
  • Consumption Vouchers – 1 million consumption vouchers to use at various outlets worth HK$100 each

The Hong Kong Airport Authority will cover the cost of 500,000 tickets distributed for travel to Hong Kong. The government has earmarked HK2B for this (roughly $255M).

The tickets for most are unlikely free, as you may have to buy two to get one free, participate in all kinds of giveaways, and sign up for respective frequent flier programs. The HK government estimates that every free ticket received will bring, on average, two other passengers with them.

It is unclear how many tickets each airline is assigned and how they are distributed.

Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Press Release:

Download (PDF, 1.57MB)

Hong Kong Government’s Press Release:

The Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, officiated at the “Hello Hong Kong” Campaign Launch Ceremony today (February 2), to unveil a series of promotional activities and highlight the many new attractions, developments and opportunities for visitors coming to Hong Kong.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Lee said that as Hong Kong is now in a new phase of advancing from stability to prosperity and is seamlessly connected to the Mainland and the rest of the world, it is the perfect time for tourists, investors, entrepreneurs and innovators to come and experience the vibrancy of the city and seize opportunities to flourish.

“Hello Hong Kong” is a large-scale global promotional campaign focusing on four major areas. They include:

(i) “Hello Hong Kong” as the over-arching theme to attract visitors to the city:

distributing 500,000 free air tickets and welcoming people from around the world to come and experience the hospitality of Hong Kong in person. Over the past few years, a number of major new attractions have opened, including the Hong Kong Palace Museum and M+ museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District, providing visitors with more exciting experiences. There are also various special offers, cash vouchers and other incentives to enrich their itinerary in Hong Kong.

(ii) Sponsored visits for prominent guests:

inviting business leaders, political dignitaries, media representatives and influential figures to come and experience the real Hong Kong, understand the latest developments, unlimited opportunities and new tourist attractions on offer in Asia’s world city and share good stories of Hong Kong with their friends and contacts at home.

(iii) Going out to tell good Hong Kong stories:

the Government will lead and organise different delegations to the Mainland and overseas countries to introduce the unparalleled strengths of the city under “One Country, Two Systems”, to tell the good stories of Hong Kong, and to promote business, tourism and cultural exchanges.

(iv) Launching more MICE and mega events:

major events on finance, economy, innovation and technology, sports, arts and culture as well as wine and dine events, together with large-scale international conventions and exhibitions, are coming back one after another, reviving the city’s MICE tourism sector.  In the coming two months, a variety of large-scale events will take place, including the Hong Kong Marathon, Hong Kong Sevens, Trailwalker, Art Basel Hong Kong, Museum Summit, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Hong Kong International Jewllery Show, WOW Summit Hong Kong and Vis East Moot.

Mr Lee added that Hong Kong is ready to welcome tourists from the Mainland and overseas to explore the city’s diversity and opportunities.

Speaking at a press conference immediately after the Launch Ceremony, the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, said the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign would tell people around the world that Hong Kong is “back” again. The Government and the Hong Kong Inc. partner organisations will go all out to showcase and promote the city’s new bright economic prospects, new cultural vision as well as new tourism and mega event experiences. The newly-established Task Force on Promoting and Branding Hong Kong will seize this timely opportunity to devise narratives to proactively demonstrate Hong Kong’s new strengths.

I had quite an exciting experience entering Hong Kong on one of the first quarantine-free flights on September 26, 2022:

Hong Kong No Quarantine Arrival Experience On September 26, 2022

Hong Kong International Airport & Cathay Pacific The Wing (FIRST) And The Pier (BUSINESS) Lounge Experience On October 1, 2022

The airport was very quiet in March 2020:

Hong Kong Airport (HKG) Very Quiet Experience


Considering that there is not much spare capacity to/from Hong Kong at the moment, I am not sure how these “free” tickets are distributed and can those that get one easily redeem them (and what are the fees involved?).

Cathay Pacific’s capacity at the end of 2022 was at roughly 30% of its 2019 level, and it intends to get this to 70% by the end of this year. Hong Kong Airlines has teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and can theoretically fold at any moment. Cathay Pacific owns HK Express (LCC). This is essentially a handout for Hong Kong’s local airlines by the Airport Authority, as they are free to distribute them as they see fit.

Perhaps worthwhile for some readers who are based in Asia and don’t mind traveling to Hong Kong in economy.

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