Hong Kong airport’s passenger volume surges as China reopens

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Bloomberg | | Posted by Parmita Uniyal

The number of people passing through Hong Kong’s airport skyrocketed last month as travel restrictions eased and China reopened borders for the first time since the pandemic began. Hong Kong International Airport reported 2.1 million passengers in January, nearly 2,900% growth from the same period last year. Traffic to and from Southeast Asia and Japan recorded the most significant increases, according to a press release from airport authorities.

China’s move to reopen borders with Hong Kong, coupled with pent-up demand to travel for the Lunar New Year break, also fueled the surge in passengers. The city is eager to restore its status as a global financial hub and gateway to China — its largest source of tourism and biggest trading partner — since its economy took a sharp blow from the prolonged closure.

Hong Kong is rapidly removing pandemic restrictions since China ended its Covid-Zero policy, and has effectively returned to normal with the exception of a mask mandate. Still, a number of rules remain that constrain visitor flows, including a daily quota on the number of people traveling to Hong Kong from the mainland.

In a bid to attract tourists, officials this month launched a tourism campaign that includes distributing more than 500,000 free air tickets this year. The Airport Authority purchased the tickets in 2020 as part of a HK$2 billion ($255 million) rescue package for the airline industry.

Hong Kong was Asia’s busiest international airport prior to Covid. January’s data represent only a third of the traffic the airport had experienced in the same period four years ago. The government wants to revive the city’s global brand after three years of self-imposed isolation during the pandemic, protests and the imposition of tough security laws in 2019 and 2020. Gross domestic product shrank 3.5% last year, the third contraction in four years.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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