Bloomberg | | Posted by Parmita Uniyal
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.